Age-related hearing loss is one of the normal signs of ageing and not a sentence. Hearing loss can be prevented and its effects alleviated. However, to do so, you require know-how. That’s why we present the first signs of deafness and hearing loss causes, as well as tips on how to communicate with deaf people, so you can better support your loved ones.
What causes hearing loss in the elderly? What are the hearing loss causes? And how do you communicate with deaf people effectively? Let’s find out!
Age-related hearing loss causes
Hearing problems affect every senior citizen to varying degrees. The first significant deterioration in the functioning of this sense is usually recorded as early as age 60. That means that almost every elderly caregiver and family member who provides support to an elderly person faces the issue of hearing loss or deafness in the elderly.
The process of hearing deterioration lasts for years, unfortunately, many seniors ignore the problem, leading to a condition where the only option is a hearing aid or surgery. Age-related hearing loss is associated with genetic factors, as well as lifestyle. Constant stress or a lot of noise, for instance, in the workplace where the senior has spent long years, can significantly contribute to the development of defects in the auditory system.
On top of this, past or ongoing illnesses, as well as medications taken, can lead to the development of hearing disorders. Therefore, it is worthwhile to determine what hearing loss causes at the outset to react accordingly.
Top signs of deafness and hearing loss
Hearing loss is a gradual process that affects both ears. Those affected by age-related hearing loss usually have poor or no ability to hear high-pitched sounds, and their understanding of speech is limited, especially in a group of several people speaking at the same time. It is typically caused by cellular damage in the inner ear, but the ageing process can also affect the auditory nerve or hearing centre.
People affected by age-related hearing loss are often particularly sensitive to noise and experience it as painful and tiresome. Hearing loss can also be accompanied by constant ringing in the ears or so-called tinnitus.
How to communicate with deaf people and those in earlier stages of hearing loss
Hearing disorders are a complicated condition that significantly affects daily contact with the environment and family, as well as impairing a senior’s overall well-being. Communicating with a hearing-impaired or deaf person is difficult, so it is worth remembering that there are several rules to make this task easier.
The most important rules for effective communication with a hearing-impaired senior:
- Try not to approach the senior suddenly so as not to frighten them — always make sure they are aware of your presence, and before touching the senior, stand within sight of them.
- Take care of your visibility — you should talk to a deaf senior citizen or one with hearing impairment in well-lit rooms so that we are visible.
- Always maintain eye contact when giving the senior information — look them straight in the eye and try to articulate words clearly, so they can read something from the movement of your lips.
- Speak slowly, in short sentences, and take care of diction — this will enable the senior to read lips.
- Use gestures, facial expressions and nonverbal communication to communicate with your senior — you can develop gestures that will make it easier for you to communicate in repetitive situations.
- Eliminate all other sources of sound during the conversation to allow the senior to concentrate on your messages – turn off the radio playing in the background, noises from the street coming through an open window or the TV.
- Make sure the senior understands your instructions — do not be afraid to repeat one sentence several times and try not to show impatience, as this can stress the senior.
- Speak louder, but try to avoid shouting, especially if the client wears a hearing aid — a raised voice can act as an irritant to the senior.
- Support yourself with other senses — write, draw and show to help the senior understand your message.
- Don’t exclude the senior from the discussion — if a senior who is deaf or has hearing loss want to join the discussion, be sure to bring them into the conversation by outlining the topic.
- Be patient — try to always remember to remain calm and that the senior is not out to spite you, and that their behaviour is due to their body’s limitations.
Age-related hearing loss – conclusion
Age-related hearing loss affects most seniors, so it is worth paying attention to the first symptoms to increase the chances of preserving hearing. Nowadays, medicine offers many methods and devices for improving hearing, so take advantage of these benefits and help your senior loved one.