As caregivers for aging loved ones, it is imperative to be vigilant of the beginning signs of hearing loss. According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), “nearly 25 percent of those aged 65 to 74 have disabling hearing loss.”
Thus, be it a home health aide, it’s imperative to know even the small symptoms of early deafness. The following article will reveal five of the subtler signs of a loss of hearing.
1. Asking for Repetition
If an aging loved one is continually asking for you to repeat yourself, they may not be doing so because they weren’t listening! In fact, they could be having difficulty understanding due to a loss of hearing.
2. Devices Set to a Very High Volume
One key signifier of hearing loss is heightened volume on technological devices. This could be a sports game on TV cranked up to several decibels, or a tablet device with instant uncomfortable feedback. These heightened sounds are a signifier that your loved one might need extremely loud volumes to be able to hear.
3. Having Difficulty Hearing over the Phone
Another sign of hearing loss is if your loved one is having problems hearing you over the telephone. Listening on the telephone is already difficult, especially as much of our natural human communication is nonverbal. For a loved one dealing with hearing loss, a telephone call might become increasingly difficult to parse meaning!
4. Accusing Others of “Mumbling”
Stating that others need to stop “mumbling” is a common signifier of hearing loss. While your loved one may say that people are lacking in diction, they themselves could be the communication problem. It’s quite likely that your elder loved one is not hearing certain frequencies, thus missing crucial speech patterns.
5. Have Difficulty Following a Conversation with Three People
If your loved one is no longer hearing certain frequencies, it may be harder for them to follow a conversation between three or more people. When larger parties converse, following a conversation becomes difficult. People interrupt, talk over each other, respond to ideas, disagree, and collaborate in real time.
For a person that is only hearing part of a conversation, this can be incredibly distressing. Take notice if your loved one seems tired or disoriented after a conversation. There’s a likelihood their hearing loss has, quite literally, tired them out!