If you have a loved one that has transitioned into a nursing home or assisted living facility, you may feel anxious thinking about the management of their care. This may be amplified if your loved one lives with any medical conditions including hearing loss.
Hearing loss is the third most common chronic health condition that older adults experience. Being aware of the best ways to address and support their specific hearing needs can significantly improve the quality of their life. There are a few ways you can help ease the transition into a nursing home and make sure that their hearing health is protected!
1. Clear and Consistent Communication with Staff
It is incredibly important to develop relationships with the people who will be providing daily care for your loved one. This can help you feel more comfortable with the environment and people your loved one is surrounded by. It also helps facilitate consistent communication which is critical. You want to make sure that the staff is aware of specific hearing needs and knowledgeable about effective ways to support someone with hearing loss. They can also share with you any feedback or any issues that may arise which you could also support with.
2. Emphasize Importance of Wearing Hearing Aids
Hopefully your loved one knows the importance of wearing their hearing aids but reminding them is always a good thing! Not using their hearing aid can be detrimental to their health in a variety of ways. It can strain communication as sounds are muffled and difficult to hear making it challenging to have and follow conversations. People with hearing loss who are not using hearing aids may experience miscommunication, miss important details in conversations, not fully hear instructions etc. which absolutely impacts their care and could even be dangerous. Wearing hearing aids ensures that they can engage in conversation and participate in activities with much greater ease and presence. Being able to engage with others and do the things that bring joy and happiness improves overall well-being.
To ensure that your loved one wears their device, you can do the following:
- Make sure that the hearing aid fits them comfortably, the settings are programmed to meet their needs and preferences, and they know how to insert and remove the device on their own.
- Write their name using a permanent marker on the back of their hearing aid. This ensures that if they misplace or lose it, it can be easily identified as theirs and returned.
3. Review Hearing Aid Maintenance
It is also important that your loved one knows how to effectively care for their device. Proper maintenance of hearing aids helps with their longevity and quality. Hearing aids should be thoroughly cleaned at least every week. Using a dry cloth, any debris, dust, moisture, and earwax should be removed. This helps the hearing aid work properly and helps prevent buildup which damages the device.
4. Develop a Routine
Developing a routing can be a really useful way to encourage and ensure that your loved one is using and caring for their hearing aids. Placing the device in a case that is easily accessible from the bed is important (a nightstand for example). Your loved one can easily reach for them in the morning and remove them right before bed. They can choose a day(s) of the week where they thoroughly clean their device and you can help make sure that their cleaning kit stays stocked with the supplies they may need.
5. Regular Hearing Tests
Having their hearing assessed regularly is a great practice that supports maintaining the best hearing health possible. You can help schedule these appointments or accompany your loved one so that you are also informed about their hearing. Hearing needs can change over time so it is important to consistently measure hearing. Changes to hearing can mean that they need a new device or to make adjustments to the settings on their current device. It is generally recommended that hearing is assessed yearly. This also allows them to check-in with their device, making sure that it is up to date and still working effectively.