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One in three people 60-plus and two-thirds of people 70-plus have hearing loss. It’s a growing issue for the Baby Boomers, with over 15% of the population already affected. If your parents or other senior loved ones are suffering hearing loss, the situation can be frightening. But, when handled proactively and with care, seniors can live confidently and communicate effectively despite hearing loss. Here are some tips for what to do when you or a loved one starts to have hearing issues.
Start a Dialogue
Often, the issue of hearing loss can fly under the radar. Until your parents start answering you with “What?” consistently, you might not even realize they’re suffering. In fact, shame around hearing loss can actually cause seniors to withdraw and isolate themselves. New research illustrates this reaction to hearing loss:in a recent study of 321 60-69 year olds, 50% admitted they had trouble hearing. But, only one out of six survey participants actually used hearing aids.
Aside from embarrassment, there are many reasons why a senior might not consider hearing loss an issue. They may say that, “they only hear what they want to hear,” or that everyone else around them mumbles. When you start to notice this language or even if you suspect your senior loved one is struggling, take this as an opportunity to show support. Suggest a meeting with their physician to get the ball rolling if you’re unsure of what to say.
Not all hearing aids are alike, and finding the right one can be stressful. It’s best to begin with an audiologist, who will conduct a hearing test. Many seniors who seek treatment for hearing loss might be feeling nervous doing so for the very first time and it’s the audiologist’s job to help through this transition. Assisting your aging parents with hearing loss will always be more difficult than simply purchasing a hearing aid and hearing aids might just stave off the inevitable. Whether it’s finding your parents a book on sign language and learning yourself in solidarity, or suggesting you both take a class together to learn, there are many ways to problem solve around your parent’s hearing loss.
As mentioned above, hearing loss can often lead to seniors isolating themselves and withdrawing from friends and family. Part of helping your aging parents through this time is ensuring their emotional needs are being cared for as much as their physical needs. If they’ve been spending a lot of time alone, you might consider working with them to seek a support group. The National Hearing Loss Association has chapters throughout the US to meet the needs of the 48 million Americans suffering from hearing loss. Their website curates a list of these different networks and can make a great place to begin your search.
Taking time out to care for a senior loved one with hearing loss is a work of emotional labor for yourself as well, so remember to engage in self-care and speak openly with your senior loved one. As you’re creating a support network for them, you can seek support as well by engaging with their physician as well as friends and family. You don’t have to go this alone. Also, when the cost of care is high, there are solutions to help bear the burden. If your elderly loved one still maintains a life insurance policy they no longer need, did you know they can sell all or a portion of that policy for more than the cash surrender value? This is called a life settlement, or viatical. Contact Life Settlement Advisors today to learn more about the life settlement process or see if your parents pre-qualify.
Life Settlement Advisors