We all have experienced these phrases before with an elderly, hard of hearing adult at some point. Whether it was in our personal or professional lives, we all have had the opportunity to communicate with someone that can not hear very well. Many get frustrated at having to repeat themselves, but how frustrating is is for the one that can not hear them? It can be very easy to lose patience and even give up trying to communicate with the elderly person, but what is the true cost to the one suffering the hearing loss?
As far as I can remember my grandmother has always had hearing deficit. She blames it on a high fever (107°F) at 4 years of age, according to her. Regardless of the reason for the hearing loss, it has affected her severely over the years. To try to have a conversation with her over a special amplified phone is like an Olympic event of how loud can one yell, all the while she repeats for you to speak up. She is on a fixed income, and therefore will not spend the money on two hearing aids and swears that one is sufficient enough. I have no idea the make or model of the aid she owns, but it does not allow her to hear or carry on full conversations and she ends up nodding as if she knows what you are saying, but in truth she misses at least the half of every conversation. Did I mention she is 75 years old and lives alone and has never driven a car in her life? All of these things combined equate to a very lonely and quiet life for her. She goes to church, but can not hear the service and is active with a bible study group, but as many people age they also start speaking more quietly which does not help her at all. She is, however, very fit and rides her bicycle everywhere in her home town, so she at least has some freedom from the silence of her life.
It is known that as adults age, depression can increase. But how much more does it increase with severe hearing loss? According to the CDC, even though the elderly over the age of 65 comprise only 12 percent of the population, this group accounted for 16 percent of all suicides deaths in 2004. How many of those that chose to take their own lives were dealing with hearing loss and social isolation? What can we learn from these statistics to better the lives of our elderly population, and therefore possibly increase our own quality of life as we age as well?
In the case of my grandmother, why does she make the decision to only purchase one hearing aid? Are the costs so astronomical that she is fearful of spending the meager amount of money she has? California Medicare does not cover the cost of hearing aids, but sometimes will cover the cost of a hearing diagnostic screening if a patient has Medicare Part B. Why is the quality of life of the ever growing elderly population not thought of as an important issue?
If you are not yet in this category, will you get the medical care you have grown accustomed to as a younger adult? Will social isolation and depression, due to hearing loss, be considered a normal part of the life of an elderly adult if they are unable to pay for items out of pocket that insurance will not cover? Hopefully as time passes the awareness of hearing loss and social isolation and depression will become more important to the general public as a whole, and hopefully as a community, it will be recognized that this is a huge issue that affects all of us eventually in one way or another. Having good hearing is important to the well being and mental health of all.
- What questions should you ask before buying a hearing aid? (moneysavingreviews.com)
- Dad … Dad? DAD! It’s Time to Get a Hearing Test – Part 2 (theepochtimes.com)
- Better Hearing Institute Publishes First Comprehensive Guide to Financial Assistance for Hearing Aids (prweb.com)
- The New Old Age Blog: Why Won’t They Get Hearing Aids? (newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Hearing Aids Improve Quality of Life, Empower People with Hearing Loss to Stay Socially Active, New Study by Better Hearing Institute Finds (prweb.com)
- Higher Quality of Life and Better Relationships – International Study Proves Positive Influence of Hearing Aids (prweb.com)
- Millions 50+ Could Use Hearing Aids (abcnews.go.com)
- The Lighter Side of Hearing Loss (ahearingloss.com)
- Experts: Lifestyle Mainly To Blame For Growing Hearing Loss Epidemic (newyork.cbslocal.com)
- Aging Parents: The Practical, Important Foundations for Aging Well – Fundamental 3 (helpparentsagewell.com)