They seem forgetful and confused. It is easy to write that off as a side effect of getting older, but maybe there is something else going on with your parent. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services reports that hearing loss is common among older individuals – one in three has some level of hearing impairment. That number jumps to half for those over the age of 75.
They took care of you most of your life, now it is your turn. Learn the signs of hearing loss in older adults, so you can tell the difference between going crazy and struggling to hear.
Doesn’t Like to Talk on the Phone
Phone conversations are tricky when you have hearing loss. If your mom or dad starts to complain that the phone isn’t working, but it seems fine to you, then suspect a hearing problem. They may refuse to answer the phone or stop returning phone calls. Cellphones van mysteriously disappear or be conveniently lost at an alarming rate, too.
If your parent says “what” a lot during conversations, it may be a symptom of hearing problems. Even without the prompt, if you end up repeating yourself just to make sure you were heard, it is time to ask some questions.
People with hearing loss have trouble understanding words, particularly if there is background noise like other people talking or the fan blowing. The sound they hear is muffled or distant. They may only comprehend half of the words in a sentence, so they seem slower than usual as they try to process what was said.
Depression is common in the elderly, but part of that may be because they feel isolated due to poor hearing. People with undiagnosed hearing loss tend to withdraw from conversations because they can’t follow them. They may not make the connection that they just are not hearing everything that is being said on their own. This is especially true for someone who is aging and feels out of touch with younger generations.
Turns the TV Up
Turning the volume up on the television, radio or computer is a sure sign of hearing loss in older adults. Presbycusis, or hearing loss that comes with age, is gradual, so they may not even know they do it. It is natural to keep raising the volume until you can clearly hear your favorite show, so it doesn’t seem unusual to them.
What to do if You Suspect a Parent has Hearing Loss
The first step is to get a proper diagnosis to make sure hearing loss is the culprit. Once you know the problem, the doctor can help you look for solutions. A hearing aid specialist does tests to determine the extent of the loss and makes recommendations about hearing enhancement.
It takes time to get used to the idea that you don’t hear well anymore. Adult children need to be patient with parents struggling to accept their age-related hearing loss and help them get the tools that will improve the quality of their lives.