Approximately 50% of the population of seniors over the age of 65 suffer from some degree of hearing loss. The inescapable aging process that ultimately affects all people results in the degeneration of the structures within the inner ear that allow us to hear. It happens so gradually that most seniors aren’t aware they are experiencing difficulty hearing, however, their spouse, family or friends are aware that something isn’t right. Before approaching the subject with your loved one there are some definitive signs to look for.
- Their speech doesn’t sound right or normal anymore.
When engaged in conversation with your loved one, do you struggle to understand what they’re saying? People experiencing gradual hearing loss are not aware that they mumble or muffle their speech. They believe they’re speaking in a normal voice as they always have.
- “What’d you say?”
Are you noticing you need to repeat yourself more often when conversing with your loved one? Are they struggling to understand words, especially when the background noise is elevated or there’s a crowd? Your loved one may be asking for people to “speak-up”, insisting that the problem is the speaker is mumbling or not speaking loud enough.
- Turn up the volume.
If the people in the room with your loved one can’t hold a conversation due to the volume of the television or radio. This is an indication of hearing loss. If you can’t get your loved ones attention without raising your voice above the volume of the TV, hearing loss should be suspected.
- You notice a change in behavior.
Does your loved one not actively engage in banter around the table anymore? This behavior change will be subtle. At first, you may chalk it up to your loved one having an off day, or not having anything to say on the topic being discussed. However, if they were always one to contribute to a discussion and now shy away from being engaged it’s a sign that they are struggling to hear. Rather than constantly asking people to repeat themselves, they choose to withdraw from conversations in an attempt to keep others from noticing their difficulties.
- “Go without me.”
People who are struggling to hear conversations can become so uncomfortable in social situations that they choose to no longer participate in things that were once enjoyable. If your loved one is starting to decline invitations to go out to dinner, go to church, or grab a cup of coffee with a friend, they may feel insecure about their ability to contribute to conversations and feel very awkward in group settings or loud places.
For most seniors, loss of hearing is an embarrassment and indicates advanced aging that no one is eager to embrace. Your loved one will deny they’re having a problem. Many deflect and blame it on the speaker. They refuse to admit that they’re suffering from hearing loss. It can be hard for you to accept this reality as well. If you do notice any of the signs we’ve provided, there are things you can do to help your loved one come to terms with their loss.
Don’t ignore the problem, but don’t make them feel defensive. Suggest that they take a simple hearing test online, in the privacy of their own home, or at an audiologist’s office. Hearing loss is a normal progression of the aging process. Treated with respect and assisted by technology, many seniors continue to live full and happy lives regardless of loss of hearing. At Champion Home Health Care we are equipped to provide assistance to your loved one with hearing loss. Our speech therapists assist seniors with improving communication skills and helping them regain confidence. Call us at 321-306-2551 We are here to help!