Realizing how vulnerable your parents are to the passage of time can be heartbreaking.
If you are a parent yourself, you reach a point in life when you feel that you have to worry not just for your children but for your parents too.
Growing up, we all see our parents as invincible, so the gradual effects of aging on their health can be difficult to bear.
A great way to be there for your aging parents is to help them identify potential struggles and find solutions for them.
Is your aging mother or father dealing with hearing loss? Here are a few ways you can help.
Learn to Identify the Signs
Many older adults experience hearing loss for several years before seeking help. They assume that losing their hearing function is a natural part of aging because it is a slow, subtle process.
While it is true that hearing loss is an age-related condition, it can have many different causes, such as ear infections or earwax buildup. Regaining the hearing function is possible.
When someone experiences hearing loss, loved ones are the first to notice that something is not quite right. By learning to identify the signs of hearing loss, you can help an aging parent avoid a lot of distress.
What are the signs? Pain and ringing in the ear are the obvious indications that something is wrong. In addition to that, you will have to pay attention to your parent’s behavior in social situations.
Do they ask you to repeat words during conversation? Do they seem frustrated when speaking with friends and family members? Do they seem to misunderstand the topics discussed?
Is your parent keeping the volume on the TV set loud? If these situations are familiar to you, consider scheduling a visit to a hearing care professional.
Consider Hearing Aids
A hearing evaluation from a good audiologist will tell you everything you need to know about your parent’s hearing loss. Is it mild or severe? Reversible or irreversible?
The most important thing is to determine if your mother or father is a candidate for hearing aids. Many seniors use these electronic devices to improve their hearing function.
You will find many models available, designed for different budgets and lifestyles.
The best hearing aids have many helpful, tech-advanced features and accessible pricing. They are safe and easy to use and can help seniors with mild or moderately severe hearing loss regain their independence.
Give your parent a clear overview of how hearing aids work. Some seniors may feel overwhelmed when realizing they must incorporate a tech device into their daily lives.
Hearing aids are the most effective solution for hearing loss, so check your options.
Make Sure Your Parent Doesn’t Feel Isolated
Hearing loss can cause disconnection and loneliness because it makes it difficult to navigate social situations.
Many people who experience hearing loss tend to become withdrawn. They feel a lot of stress and sometimes embarrassment in social contexts, which affects their relationships.
A great way to normalize relationships in the family is to make sure everyone knows about the problem so they can exercise the patience and understanding needed. If family members are aware of the situation, they can adapt their behavior to the circumstances.
If everyone speaks slowly and loudly, your parent will feel less anxiety about participating in discussions.
Adopt a New Communication Style
Adopting a new communication style can help you make your parent feel more comfortable socializing. When talking, maintain eye contact. Use facial expressions and hand gestures to emphasize various elements in your speech.
Always encourage conversations in a quiet and calm environment with no background noise. Patiently rephrase what you said if you notice an unusual pause in the conversation.
An important thing to remember is to avoid shouting. Many people experiencing hearing loss perceive shouting as angry or aggressive, which increases their anxiety and can make them even more withdrawn.
If you reach a frustrating point during a conversation, try to get your parent’s attention by calling their name and maintaining face-to-face contact while talking. Speak clearly, but not too slowly. It’s important not to make your parent feel patronized.
Maintaining effective communication is vital for helping your parent avoid low mood, loneliness, and isolation. To achieve this goal, your pitch, tone, and speed of speaking may require constant adjustment. Pay extra attention to facial expressions and always ensure eye contact.
Explore Various Modes of Communication
Not being able to talk with your beloved parent can be heartbreaking. Unfortunately, in case of severe hearing loss, this is a scenario that many people have to accept. The good news is that there’s always some way to maintain a close relationship.
As mentioned above, wearing hearing technology is one of the best ways to overcome hearing difficulties. However, when this option is not available, there are other ways to maintain communication.
Texting and emailing are extremely helpful ways to communicate because they encourage a quick and clear exchange. Although it can be challenging to adapt to these methods of communication, they can be life-savers when other options don’t work.
Texting or emailing can help your parent maintain a wide circle of social connections and stay in touch with family members regardless of their location. Thus, these methods of communication can prove vital for avoiding social isolation and the associated depression.
Consider creating a group chat for the family so you can communicate in an inclusive environment that’s easy for your parent to navigate.
Another mode of communication worth considering in certain circumstances is sign language. Although it takes a while to learn, sign language is a valuable tool able to compensate for hearing loss.
It also gives the person who learns it access to a large community that can provide additional resources and emotional support.
Hearing loss is one of the most common struggles that seniors face. When it happens to someone you love, you may feel overwhelmed and helpless.
Thankfully, there are many solutions available, so don’t lose hope.