Hearing Loss and Aging: How In-Home Caregiving Services Can Improve Quality of Life
As we age, our bodies undergo many changes including changes to our hearing ability. Hearing loss is a common issue among seniors and can significantly impact their quality of life. It can make it difficult to communicate with loved ones, participate in social activities, and even perform daily tasks.
Hearing loss can take many forms and some conditions are more debilitating than others. But, according to the World Health Organization, over a quarter of people over the age of 60 have some form of hearing loss.
Fortunately, in-home caregiving can be a helpful solution for seniors with hearing loss. Caregivers can provide one-on-one support, help with communication strategies, and assist with hearing aid maintenance.
In this article, we'll explore the challenges of hearing loss in senior citizens and how in-home caregivers can help them maintain their independence and improve their quality of life.
Most Common Types of Hearing Loss
Presbycusis is one of the most common types of hearing loss among the elderly as it’s typically related to age-related changes in the inner ear. Hair cells within the inner ear are responsible for transmitting sound signals to the brain, and when these start to deteriorate, so does our ability to process sound correctly.
This kind of hearing loss is typically characterized with a struggle to hear high-frequency sounds and speech. This is most notable when an individual struggles to understand and keep up with conversations in noisy environments.
Conductive Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss is another common occurrence in the elderly and happens when there is either some blockage or damage to the middle or outer ear that stops sounds from reaching the inner ear.
There are a few reasons for conductive hearing loss from something as simple as earwax building up in the ear, fluid in the middle ear, or even a perforated eardrum. Seniors with conductive hearing loss might experience it as muffled and distorted sounds.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Another form of hearing loss that is quite common in the elderly is known as sensorineural hearing loss and can have a significant impact on quality of life. As we age, the hair cells of the inner ear become damaged or simply degenerate and this leads to a gradual decline in hearing ability. Exposure to loud noises over the course of a lifetime also contributes to sensorineural hearing loss.
Seniors experiencing sensorineural hearing loss may have trouble hearing soft sounds, understanding speech, as well as distinguishing between sounds in noisy environments.
Senior Hearing Loss and Quality of Life
Hearing loss has many rippling effects for seniors and can have a significant impact on their quality of life. With decreased ability of hearing necessarily comes a decreased ability to communicate with others effectively. Seniors might have to constantly ask others to repeat themselves or might not notice themselves speaking very loudly.
The reactions of others can also negatively affect seniors and cause them to be less vocal or interactive with others. After a while, they may begin to socially isolate themselves because of the hassles that come with their hearing loss and deteriorating communication abilities.
Hearing loss can make it challenging for seniors to communicate with others as effectively as they would like to. Difficulty hearing and understanding others in a conversation can easily lead to frustration and miscommunication. Relationships with loved ones may become impacted and can also make it more difficult to make new connections with people.
As mentioned above, hearing loss can have a significant impact in understanding others and can lead to miscommunication as well frustration. These occurrences can lead a senior to avoid social gatherings and activities because they fear that they are unable to hear or understand the conversations. This, in turn, can lead to
feelings of loneliness and isolation
which can begin to impact both their
mental and physical health.
Decreased Cognitive Function
Research has begun to show that hearing loss and a decline in cognitive function are greatly intertwined. Whether from cognitive overload dampening a senior’s ability to process all of the information, to a general hypothesis that both hearing and cognitive functions have an underlying degenerative brain condition at their root, hearing loss and cognitive decline tend to go hand in hand.
How In-home Caregiving Can Help Seniors with Hearing Loss
Here at Christian Companions Houston, we know how difficult it can be for seniors struggling with hearing loss and our caregivers are eager to assist.
Assistance With Hearing Aids
Hearing aids are a highly effective solution for seniors dealing with hearing loss. However, they can sometimes be tricky and finicky. That’s where our in-home caregivers come in. They can be the gentle, guiding hand that makes sure a senior’s hearing aid fits and works properly as well as help with any of the device’s maintenance, such as keeping it clean and replacing the batteries.
Another area in which our in-home caregivers can assist is in the development of communication strategies for seniors struggling with hearing loss. This can include things such as using visual cues like hand gestures and facial expressions, speaking to them clearly and slowly, and ensuring there isn’t any extra background noise that might make communication more difficult. Having a caring and compassionate helper to converse with also does wonders for senior self esteem and confidence.