You might have a family member who lives in a nursing home. Even if you live close by, you may still worry about their well-being and whether they are getting what they need. Besides getting along with other people and eating well, can they hear well? In reality, hearing care takes a back seat in nursing homes because medical and hygiene care is more important.
Age-related hearing loss is a plague.
Age-related hearing loss often goes unnoticed because its signs are often misinterpreted. For instance, if a resident isn’t responding or seems confused, this could be a sign of dementia or a mental health problem, not hearing loss.
If people don’t get the help they need to deal with hearing loss well; it can lead to:
- communication difficulties
social isolation and loneliness
Getting mad and upset
low self-esteem, especially around other people.
Hearing loss also makes other long-term conditions more likely or worse, and since many health problems are linked to getting older, they are likely to happen simultaneously as hearing loss.
Hearing loss can significantly hurt a person’s health and well-being if it isn’t caught early, and hearing aids work best when they are put in early.
How can you help caregivers help your loved one?
Hearing tests could be helpful for your loved one when they first move into the care home and then once a year after that. If the hearing test shows a hearing loss, send them to their doctor and tell everyone who needs to know that they have hearing problems.
Hearing aids help a lot of people who have trouble hearing. But some people need time to get used to their hearing aids, and your loved one must get the help they need to make the most of them. Every day, hearing aids need to be cleaned, and the batteries need to be changed every week. We suggest you give carers a Hearing aid care plan for your loved one. This will help them keep track of information about the hearing aids and what kind of care they need.
According to NHS England’s Accessible Information Standard, care home staff need to know how people with hearing loss want to communicate and ensure that these needs are recorded and met.
People with hearing loss should be able to give feedback and share their thoughts about the quality of care in easy ways.
The acoustics in public spaces can be improved by cutting down on background noise. Some things that absorb sound include tablecloths, soft furniture, and acoustic panels. Putting rubber caps on the table and chair legs can also help. If no one is watching TV, ask carers if they can turn it off or put on the subtitles.
Your care home should work with people who have trouble hearing and local community groups (like hearing loss and Deaf clubs) to help them say what they want. This includes making reasonable changes, like giving people an easy-to-use alternative to the phone or helping them talk face-to-face.
Your care home should also have a good working relationship with GPs and local audiology services so that older people who might be losing their hearing can get a hearing test quickly and get ongoing help with their hearing aids.
Changing people’s minds
Some older people think that hearing loss is a normal part of getting older. It can be hard to tell if someone has a hearing loss or has trouble communicating or remembering things because of dementia or another long-term condition. Care workers have a big part to play in getting older people with hearing loss to get help.