It’s hard to watch a loved one struggle with hearing loss.
At first, it’s just frustrating for them — not hearing the doorbell ring, having to say, “What was that?” again and again. However, hearing loss starts to affect the quality of their life when they can’t play a game of cards with friends or talk on the phone with your kids.
Fortunately, there are many tech tools for older adults who are hearing-impaired — and they’re not all $5,000 hearing aids. Finding the right tools and getting your loved one to use them are two different things.
In this blog, we’ll take a look at why it’s hard to admit to being hard of hearing (your dad isn’t just being stubborn), what happens when hearing loss goes untreated, and tech tools your loved one can use to be more independent and make everyday life easier and more pleasant.
Why It’s Hard to Admit It’s Hard to Hear
Nearly a quarter of 65- to 74-year-olds and half of those 75 and older have disabling hearing loss. Yet only 20 percent of them seek help.
Why? It’s not easy for your loved one to admit to being hard of hearing. It might feel easier to ignore the fact they are aging than it is to actually accept the situation. The stigma of hearing aids — “I don’t want to look old!” — doesn’t help, either. Then there’s the cost to consider.
Refusing to acknowledge hearing loss, however, can have a huge impact on their quality of life.
When Hearing Loss Goes Untreated
Hearing loss isn’t just an ear issue; it’s a quality of life and health issue.
When hearing loss is ignored, it makes it harder to keep up with conversations and participate in social activities. If your loved one stops doing many of the things they once enjoyed, it can lead to social isolation, feelings of helplessness, and low mood.
Eventually, hearing loss impacts every facet of daily life, making everything from driving to the grocery store and navigating checkout lines to communicating with doctors and following medication instructions difficult — and sometimes dangerous.
How to Approach the Topic of Hearing Loss
Don’t start with the hearing loss. It’ll put your loved one on the defensive.
Instead, ask them if they miss playing bridge or going to the theater. Would they like to be able to talk to their granddaughter over the phone? Would they like to talk about how hearing loss is impacting their life?
Remind your parent that you want them to get help for their hearing loss because you want the best for them, and there are many tech tools that can help them hear better.
Tech Tools for the Hearing Impaired
If your loved one’s hearing loss is affecting their quality of life, here are seven tech tools that can help them hear better.
1. Sonic Alert Wireless Doorbell with Lamp Flash and Telephone Signaler
This Sonic Alert signaler helps with both doorbells and phone calls. It flashes a lamp to alert your loved one when someone is at the door and also flashes to alert when the phone rings. It doesn’t require any wires and can be installed quickly and easily.
2. Photoelectric Smoke Alarm with Integrated Strobe Light
Safety is the first priority for older adults, especially those living home alone. However, a smoke alarm is only useful if your loved one knows that it’s going off. This smoke detector has a strobe light so they can see any alarms.
3. TV Ears Original TV Headset System
This wireless headphone set allows those who are hard of hearing to turn up the TV volume as loud as they need without disturbing anyone else. If others are watching, you can keep the TV sound on its own volume level.
4. CaptionCall Phone
With the CaptionCall phone, you can hear and read what the other person is saying. The phone displays big, easy-to-read text that automatically scrolls during the conversation. Plus, you can amplify the sound to better hear the caller’s voice. It dials, rings, and works just like a regular phone. There’s also a CaptionCall mobile app for the iPhone.
5. Captionfish App
Is your loved one a movie buff? The Captionfish App is a search engine for captioned movies. Check the locations and schedules of theaters that offer closed-captioned films, or stream captioned movie trailers.
6. Soundworld Solutions CS50+
In a New York Times article, an audiologist from Johns Hopkins recommended several hearing aid alternatives. The Soundworld Solutions CS50+ is a personal sound amplification product (PSAP) with an over-the-ear design. It uses rechargeable batteries, doesn’t require a smartphone, and is ready to use out of the box.
7. BEAN Quiet Sound Amplifier
Another PSAP recommended by the Johns Hopkins audiologist, the BEAN Quiet Sound Amplifier has an in-ear design that comes with seven different ear-tip sizes. It has a long battery life — 10 to 12 days — and doesn’t require a smartphone. It is also ready to use out of the box.
Investigate these tech tools for hearing loss and see which one might help improve the day-to-day-quality life for your loved one and help them engage in life once again.
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