Having a relative or loved one in a nursing home is never easy. Will they be safe? Will someone make sure they’re eating enough? Will someone be looking after their physical and mental health diligently? Obviously, you will have many concerns when deciding if, when, and where to place your loved one in a nursing home, but one important part of the care that can be easy to forget about is hearing care.
Hearing Care is Often Overlooked
The vast majority (70-90%) of adults will eventually be affected by long term hearing loss in some capacity. Despite this, hearing care is one of the least considered aspects of nursing home care, and many nurses overlook it. One study of a nursing home found that only 11% of residents had even had a hearing loss screening in the past year.
For residents who already need hearing aids, the environment of a nursing home can make them difficult to maintain. Uncomfortable fit, pain when using, and malfunctions are common issues reported about hearing aids, and some who suffer from hearing loss have said they don’t get the necessary help at a nursing home to deal with them.
Hearing Loss and Quality of Life
Presbycusis, or age-related hearing loss, affects almost every adult at some point in their life, and the chances of developing it increase substantially with age. Humans are social creatures, so hearing, or being aware of what goes on around us is crucial to a high quality of life. Especially for those with cognitive issues, a comprehensive hearing treatment plan is a necessity. Studies have consistently shown that hearing loss is more likely to be undiagnosed in patients that also suffer from diseases like Alzheimer’s. When undiagnosed and therefore untreated, hearing loss in Alzheimer’s patients can lead to an increase in episodes of anger and disorientation. When it is diagnosed, hearing aids can be used to treat hearing loss, which can greatly increase the quality of life of the patient.
Hearing Loss, Face Masks, and the Pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic has affected almost all areas of daily life, but especially for nursing home staff and residents. Masks are now necessary for staff and recommended for patients whenever possible. However, for those with hearing loss, this can cause additional issues. Masks make it impossible to read lips and can muffle sounds, making it even more difficult for those with hearing issues to communicate. During this time, making sure your loved ones have fully functioning hearing aids if they need them is more important than ever.
Taking Care of Hearing Aids
Because of their size, hearing aids can be easy to misplace. They are also expensive to replace too often, so it’s a good idea to label hearing aids. That way if they do get misplaced, they’re easier to finds and whoever does find them will know who they belong to. If needed, you can also paint the hearing aids with bright neon paint, so they are easier to spot once put down. Another way to keep them from getting lost is the cord and clip system. Keeping them attached to clothes will help prevent them from getting misplaced. It’s also recommended to establish a routine for storing them at bedtime. This way they will be in the same place every morning, and the user is less likely to forget them at night or in the morning. Make sure the hearing aids also have routine maintenance as well.
If you’re concerned about the hearing loss of a loved one in a nursing home, or want to learn more about hearing aids and hearing loss care, Countryside Hearing Aid Services can provide additional information.
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