Nursing homes and hearing aids: What you need to know

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Having a loved one in a nursing home brings a variety of concerns. Are their needs being tended to? Are they eating well? Are they safe? Certainly you want the best care and quality of life for those you love. Unfortunately, urgent needs such as hygiene and medical care mean that hearing care is not treated as a pressing concern and is often put on the back burner. But being in a nursing home is not an easy transition for anyone; add hearing loss into the mix and you have a recipe for frustration, fear and isolation.

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What the studies show

A 2004 study showed that 70 to 90 percent of patients in long-term care facilities have hearing loss, yet the majority of that hearing loss is unknown to the staff. A study of 279 nursing home residents revealed that only 30 out of the 279 home residents had hearing loss screening within the past year. Even more shocking, 81 percent of the residents had not received any hearing care whatsoever.

Even if a resident has hearing aids, sometimes the amount of effort it takes to maintain and use them in a nursing home environment seems insurmountable, which in itself leads to a lack of use. Some of the reasons given for not wearing hearing aids in the nursing home are:

  • Poor fit
  • Painful to wear
  • Difficult to use
  • Not functioning properly
  • No help was given when needed

Detecting underlying issues

Being able to hear what is going on around you is vital to quality of life, especially for those in nursing homes. In particular, those with hearing loss in addition to cognitive impairment are likely to experience even more difficulty in a long term care environment. Unfortunately hearing loss often goes undetected in Alzheimer’s patients, leading to further episodes of anger, anxiety and confusion. The fact that the symptoms of cognitive impairment can be greatly exacerbated by hearing loss means that the hearing needs of these patients should receive close attention, with regular hearing screenings and hearing aid use and maintenance treated as a priority.

Fortunately there are a few things you can do to ensure that your loved one is receiving the proper attention when it comes to their hearing. Think of it as a team effort; developing a positive relationship with the staff and keeping lines of communication open can go a long way. In addition, becoming familiar with the policies of the nursing home regarding hearing aids and hearing care can help ensure everyone is on the same page when it comes to your loved one’s hearing matters.

Tips for hearing aid care in the nursing home

To read the full article and tips for hearing aid care, visit Healthy Hearing


If you are experiencing hearing loss and aren’t sure where to begin with treatment, contact the Grey Bruce Audiology at 519-376-9084