Supporting A Loved One with Hearing Loss in a Nursing Home

Supporting A Loved One with Hearing Loss in a Nursing Home

In Age Related Hearing Loss, Family & Relationships, Hearing Loss by Dr. Jason Leyendecker

Dr. Jason Leyendecker
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Hearing aids can make a world of difference in the quality of life your loved one experiences in a nursing home. Not only do they make it possible to socialize and connect with other residents, they can be crucial in the delivery of services and care. When a nursing home staff member asks about your loved one’s needs or administers a service, hearing aids can be the bridge between your loved one and the caregiver. Without the ability to communicate, inappropriate measures can be taken, and spoken conversation is the best way for your loved one to become a self-advocate. With these considerations in mind, it is essential to make sure your loved one with hearing loss is able to use, maintain, and locate hearing aids each day. Here are a few considerations that will form a bridge between your loved one and the other residents and caregivers at the nursing home. 

Keeping Hearing Aids Available

With so many residents using hearing aids, it is possible for a mix-up to happen, so put in place a strategy to make it clear whose hearing aids are whose. You might want to write initials on your loved one’s hearing aids in permanent marker in the event that they are mixed up. Setting in place a storage system at the bedside not only makes it clear that these aids belong to your loved one but they also serves as a daily reminder to insert them first thing in the morning. This storage system might be as simple as a hard plastic pencil case or soft pouch. 

If your loved one has rechargeable hearing aids, the charging dock is a great item to keep at the bedside. When your loved one goes to sleep, they can rest assured that a fully charged pair of hearing aids await in the morning. Some people have put in use hearing aid retainers that are connected to clips, lanyards, or other tethers. This system means that hearing aids will not be lost if they are taken out of the ears and dropped. The aids will also remain close at hand for those who do not wear them all day long. 

Keeping Hearing Aids in Good Condition

Not only must hearing aids be readily at hand when your loved one needs them, but they also need to be regularly maintained. Many aids do not require much maintenance, but some do require batteries to be changed regularly. If your loved one struggles to change the batteries, set in place a system to make sure they are powered up when needed. If you regularly visit your loved one, you can schedule reminders for yourself to check on the batteries and other maintenance issues, such as cleaning and looking for broken elements. If you are not close enough to take care of maintenance yourself, coordinate care with the team at the nursing home. 

It is crucial to keep a close relationship with the staff members of the facility with open lines of communication. When you have clear expectations of care in place, you can check in to make sure that care is being delivered on the schedule that is necessary. 

Keeping Hearing Aids in Use

Even if hearing aids are readily at hand and fully functional, some nursing home residents are challenged to put them to use. Whether their problem has to do with arthritis, forgetfulness, or resistance to wearing them, they are a crucial aspect of getting care and the ability to socialize. Each individual has a different reason for the challenge to wearing hearing aids, so set aside time to have a sincere conversation with your loved one about how often they are in use and any reasons why they are not. 

On a case by case basis, you can work together with nursing home staff to come up with a strategy to get them in action as much as possible. Particularly when caregivers need to ask questions, administer medication, or provide other health-related services, the ability to have a conversation can prevent many errors or misunderstandings. Although your loved one might have a barrier to using hearing aids, be sure to emphasize their importance with care and patience.