Seniors are no different than the rest of the world. Young and old alike, we love to hear and be heard. It can be challenging when there are so many factors that can fight against those two needs. It takes a ton of work and intentionality to make sure that our seniors are truly being listened to, and that we're actually hearing and processing what they are saying to us!
There are lots of obvious hindrances to good communication. It's a simple fact that as most people age, they begin to have various types of hearing problems. There could be loss of hearing in one or both ears, diminished hearing that is being supplemented with hearing aids, or a condition like tinnitus that produces ringing sounds, whistle noises or pulses in the ear to the senior. All of these contribute to the problem with clear and effective communication.
Others might have had a history of chronic exposure to loud noises, causing damage to the ear drum. Many seniors struggle with keeping their ears clean, leading to a build up of excessive earwax, and increasing the chance of ear infections.
Signs and symptoms of hearing loss may include one or more of the following:
In some instances it may be the "talker" or the "listener" who are the problem. If those talking are not speaking clearly, or not facing the individual while talking to them it makes it difficult for the listener to hear or understand. In other situations, either a chronic condition like autoimmune ear disease, acoustic neruoma or physical injury to the head could cause hearing loss. In addition, there are some medications like ototoxic meds that can contribute to hearing difficulties.
Whatever the causes or causes of hearing loss, it is a frustrating issue for everyone involved. Take these simple steps to help diminish the effects of hearing loss.
Communication Matters, it really does! Do everything you can to help your senior stay connected to you and others by addressing any hearing problems in thorough, loving and practical ways!
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Page Cole is a leader in home care in Oklahoma. He has published the following resources for Seniors-