When you have a loved one in a nursing home or assisted living center there are lots of things to worry about. You want the best quality of life for them and their ability to hear plays a major roll in that. Proper hearing aid care in a nursing home can present some challenges.
Hearing Loss Is Prevalent
Half of adults over 75 years old have a hearing impairment according to the National Institutes of Health. Various studies of nursing home facilities estimate the number of residents suffering from hearing loss is between 60 and 90 percent. Unfortunately, lack of adequate hearing health education and staffing at nursing homes means most of the residents will not get the hearing treatment that they need. This leaves it up to you to advocate on their behalf or seek outside treatment to get them the help that they need.
Untreated hearing loss has been linked to a number of health issues, including dementia, increased risk of falling, brain atrophy, heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. But arguably one of the worst effects of untreated hearing loss on those in nursing homes is depression. Transitioning into a nursing home can be tough, but being unable to hear and communicate can leave you feeling isolated, confused, anxious and eventual depressed.
Hearing Aids Help
We highly recommend having your loved ones hearing tested before they enter the home and then annually after that. Their hearing loss may be caused by wax build up. A quick visit to the doctor to have the wax removed can restore hearing. If the hearing instrument specialist recommends hearing aids, be sure to explain that your loved one is living in a nursing home. This will help the hearing specialist choose a hearing aid that fits their lifestyle and come up with a feasible maintenance plan.
Ensuring proper care and maintenance in the nursing home can be difficult. Older unreliable hands make changing batteries and filters a challenge and nursing home staff often have higher priorities. So the hearing aid upkeep may fall to you, but remember giving your loved one the gift of hearing is totally worth it. Being able to hear and communicate with staff and other residents can reduce sadness, worry and anxiety.
Here are our tips for ensuring proper hearing aid care in a nursing home:
- Ask about the facilities policies regarding hearing aids. Some nursing homes will cover deductibles if loss or damage occurs.
- Label the hearing aids. These tiny devices are easy to misplace. Label them with the patients name or initials so they can be identified if they get lost. It is also a good idea to add a shiny or colorful sticker to the aids so they catch the eye of staff more easily if they are lost.
- Use a large secure container like a pencil case to store them in at night and when they aren’t in use. It is best to always keep the container in the same place, like by the bedside as a remind to put the hearing aids in and take them out each day.
- Purchase a cord system to keep the hearing aids attached to each other and clothes. Then you won’t have to worry about them falling out or hitting the floor.
- Develop a relationship with staff and talk with them about caring for the hearing aids. They likely won’t have time to clean them or change batteries, but they can check to make sure they are inserted everyday.