Stay Healthy, Stay Involved – Dealing with Hearing Loss
by Brandee Cowley, RN BSN, Apostolic Christian Skylines Home Care Services

For many adults, getting older means hearing problems may be on the horizon, and the numbers are definitely not comforting: the Center for Communication and Hearing says more than 1 out of 3 Americans over age 65 (16 million) have some degree of hearing loss. Unfortunately, too many of them (over 10 million) see this as a harmless condition—just a normal part of aging—and do not use hearing aids.

Shocking, but perhaps not surprising, people with hearing loss wait an average of 7 years before they seek help. In the meantime they are significantly less likely to participate in social activities (leading to social isolation, which has been shown to shorten lifespan), and more likely to be sad or depressed. Ignoring a hearing loss is not a good idea—especially when the problem can usually be treated using hearing aids. Hearing loss is not to be treated lightly.

I think I have a hearing problem. What should I do?

The best approach is to have your hearing evaluated by a licensed audiologist who holds a Doctorate in Audiology. Because there are many possible causes of hearing loss—including ear canal blockage, eardrum damage, middle or inner ear infection, tumors, trauma, loud noise exposure, multiple sclerosis, autoimmune disorders, certain medications, toxic chemicals, and more—it’s best to get a medical professional involved. When you are referred to an audiologist by a physician who accepts Medicare, Part B pays for a thorough hearing evaluation. Find a licensed audiologist in the Peoria area online at www.HearingTracker.com.

Veterans who receive their medical care from the Veterans Administration are entitled to a free hearing evaluation as well as deeply discounted prices on hearing aids.

My dad definitely has a hearing loss. What can I do to help him understand what I am saying?

I share the care of my mom with a home care agency or a senior living facility. Are they prepared to communicate with my father?

The short answer is “yes.” The State of Illinois requires home care agencies to train all their caregivers in techniques for communicating with people who have hearing difficulties.

The training curriculum for the Certified Nursing Assistants in nursing homes and assisted living facilities likewise includes communication strategies and techniques for residents with hearing loss. In addition, some senior living communities contract with an audiologist to visit the facility regularly to service and maintain the hearing aids of those residents who use them.

AC Skylines Home Care provides in–home caregiving and nursing services. For more information and a no–charge consultation, call AC Skylines Home Care Services at (309) 689–5343 or send email to homecare@acskylines.org. Visit www.acskylineshomecare.org or Facebook.com/ACskylinesHomeCare.

Apostolic Christian Skylines’ continuing care retirement community offers senior living options that include nursing home care, memory care, assisted living, and independent living. For more information, call Apostolic Christian Skylines at (309) 683-2500 or send email to info@acskylines.org. Visit www.acskylines.org or Facebook.com/acskylines.