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Practical ways to support older people with hearing loss

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Taking steps to support older people with hearing loss might be something you haven't considered before, but they could be vitally important in keeping a loved one engaged with the world around them.

In this article, we'll outline some of the practical steps you can take to help older people whose hearing is declining with age.

Support older people with hearing loss by taking these steps

Here are some of the steps you can take to help support older people with hearing loss:

1) Seek help early

In some cases, seeking help early could enable your loved one to receive some form of treatment. At the very least, it will give them more years of good hearing and rewarding social engagement.

Typical symptoms of hearing loss you might notice could include:

  • Requesting that speakers raise the volume of their voices regularly
  • Asking for things to be repeated often
  • Keeping the TV/radio at an uncomfortably loud level
  • Missing phone calls or other alarm/alert tones

Even if you don't spot obvious symptoms, advise your loved one to have their hearing checked periodically after the age of 40. Their doctor can conduct these tests, as can many pharmacies and opticians.

Support your loved one by offering to attend these appointments with them, or booking in to get your hearing checked at the same time. This is especially beneficial if you are related and stand a chance of inheriting the condition.

If their hearing is declining, talking to them could help them come to terms with their diagnosis and start to feel positive about the steps that can be taken to restore some of their hearing.

2) Use technology

Hearing aids are the most common type of technology recommended to support older people with hearing loss.

These devices can help put your loved one on a level playing field in social situations, and are now smaller and more discreet, yet more efficient than they've ever been.

Advise them to talk to their doctor about the most appropriate type of hearing aid for their needs, which might include:

  • BTE/RITE/ITE/ITC hearing aids for general hearing loss
  • CROS/BiCROS hearing aids if you've lost hearing in one ear
  • Body-worn hearing aids for severe hearing loss

Whether the doctor recommends an off-the-shelf or bespoke option, this hearing aid will be programmed to suit their specific needs.

In the most severe cases, the doctor might request that your loved one has a cochlear implant surgically fitted.

Both of these technologies work with induction loops in public spaces, which can help your loved one navigate them safely.

3) Adapt communications

In addition to these longer-term solutions, there are ways in which you can adapt your method of communication to help support older people with hearing loss.

Try to:

  • Minimise background noise
  • Avoid situations where multiple people are speaking simultaneously
  • Use the person's name to get their attention before delivering the main message
  • Speak clearly (without exaggerating gestures or covering your mouth)
  • Maintain eye contact throughout
  • Sit with them in social situations and repeat missed phrases discreetly (e.g. the punchline of a joke)
  • Highlight when a topic of group conversation has changed

If your loved one encountered hearing loss earlier on in their life, or if they're now able and willing to learn British Sign Language (BSL), this can also be a vital tool for helping them engage socially.

Use these simple steps to help support older people with hearing loss. Or, visit Action on Hearing Loss and British Deaf Association websites to find out more.

Speak to our friendly team about how live-in care can help your loved one access practical support in their own home.

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