For those of us lucky enough to have our parents around into our adult years, there also comes the challenge of coping with their aging issues. One that’s common among seniors is hearing loss. This can not only be annoying and frustrating for them, but for you and other members of your family. How can you cope? How can you help them cope? We have some suggestions below.
- It’s normal to feel frustrated when caring for an aging parent—especially one who is hard of hearing.
- It's essential to get the professional healthcare that they need.
- Take your parent to a healthcare professional like an otolaryngologist to diagnose and treat their hearing loss.
- There are things that you can do at home to help your parent hear better.
- You must take care of yourself before you can effectively help your aging parent.
How to help your hearing-impaired parent?
No matter how much you love your parent, it's normal to feel frustrated when you must constantly repeat yourself. But, imagine how they feel when they can’t understand what you and others are saying to them. It can not only be frustrating but embarrassing for them as well.
When your parent can't hear well, it can also be dangerous. They may not hear fire or security alarms. They may not know that you're trying to reach them on the phone. You must get them the professional healthcare that they require. Here are a few ways that you can help.
Schedule a visit with an Otolaryngologist.
Because hearing loss comes on slowly, you and your parent might not recognize how severe it is. The best thing to do is to schedule a visit with an otolaryngologist.
This is an ear, nose, and throat specialist (ENT). With the assistance of an audiologist, they can measure the degree of hearing loss in each of your parent’s ears.
Once measured, they will recommend the right hearing aid or hearing device and calibrate it to the correct specifications for your parent's requirements.
A hearing specialist will not only help fit the best hearing aid for your parent, they will educate them on using it. Be sure to go to these appointments with your parent so you can ensure they understand their treatment plan and help them follow the doctor’s recommendations. When your parent has trouble hearing, it may be difficult for them to understand the doctor's advice.
Your parent may need to try more than one type of hearing aid to find the one that works best for them. Be sure to ask the audiologist or hearing specialist if they can have a trial with a few different hearing aids before paying for one.
Be prepared to visit the doctor for follow-up appointments until your parent's hearing aid is calibrated to the exact settings they require. This is key to finding the solution for their particular hearing issues.
What you can do at home to help your aging parent hear better.
Background noise from the television, washing machine, or dishwasher can make it difficult for your parent to focus on what you or others say. Mute the sound on the TV when speaking to them.
Don't raise your voice or yell at them. This will only distort what they hear.
Also, try sitting closer and face them directly when speaking. Some hard of hearing seniors can also learn to read lips if they can see your mouth when you're talking to them.
Speak clearly and make sure you’re not mumbling or talking with your mouth full of food.
If you need to have a detailed discussion with your parent, be sure to converse in a quiet and private setting. If they have trouble hearing you, they won't be embarrassed to ask you to repeat yourself if others aren't around who may judge them for doing so.
Often times elders become frustrated because they feel like nobody can hear or understand them. It can make all of the difference in their wellbeing if you can pause, look them in the eye, and listen intently. Helping your parent feel heard can take away their, and your frustration.
Treat them like adults. Remember that just because some roles have reversed, and you might feel like you’re parenting them, they are still your parents and deserve to be treated like so. Although they might be difficult to work with sometimes, remember that you’re more likely to get positive responses from them if you treat them with respect and kindness.
How you can better cope with an aging parent who can’t hear.
You must take care of yourself before you can effectively help your aging parent.
Remember that you’re not alone. One out of three seniors between 65 and 74 has hearing loss. They likely have adult children like you who are trying to cope as well.
Seek out support groups online or in your community who face the same issues you do. Ask your primary care physician or your parent’s hearing specialist if they know of local support groups for deaf and hard of hearing parents that you can join.
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed and frustrated. Coping with aging parents is no easy task, but just remember that taking any of that frustration out on them will serve no purpose. Definitely find a healthy source to vent to, whether a close friend or better yet, a therapist. No matter how frustrated you become, try to not express this frustration to your parents.
The federal government's Eldercare Locator can help you find resources for your aging parent in your local community and help you with the challenges you're facing.
Don't forget to take care of yourself. Seek time away from being your parent's caregiver. Ask a friend, neighbor, or family member to take over while you get away for a break and de-stress. You're only human. If you are burnt out, you can't help your parent.
All of these suggestions can help you better cope with your aging or hearing-impaired parent.