Parish Nurse News

Hearing Loss

 

Many people have hearing loss and do not want to admit it and thus miss conversation or get it wrong. Statistics show that 1 in 3 people 65 to 74 have loss and 1 in 2 over 75 have loss. A lot of people get hearing loss from exposure to loud noises (tractors, construction workers, lawn mowers, etc.), viral or bacterial infection, heart conditions, stroke, head injuries, tumors, some medication or diabetes or wax in the ears. . Another problem is tinnitus or ringing in ears—can be caused by early hearing loss, medication, or high blood pressure, Hearing loss that happens suddenly should be considered a medical emergency and evaluated by your care provider 

 

Treatments
Hearing aids—if you think you have a hearing loss, see your primary physician, ENT specialist or an audiologist—if this would be helpful they will advise you. There are many varieties of hearing aids available. Usually they can be tried and the type that best fits your needs will be recommended. Some need batteries and some do not—can be charged similar to a cell phone etc. They remain relatively expensive. Not covered by Medicare but payment plan can usually be made by provider. Hopefully sometime soon this will be improved. Soon can be purchased over-the-counter.

 

Cochlear implant—works only in the severe hearing loss and needs to be a certain type of loss.
Assistive listening devices—available —can be adapted to TV, telephone, cell phone. It amplifies sound to help. Some churches have assistive technology incorporated into their sound system.

 

Other devices are available for the severe loss through the Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing such as a light that lights up when the phone is ringing or door bell ringing. Also the TTD services which gives a print out of conversation via telephone—needs to be pre-arranged with telephone company. 

 

Lip reading or speech reading—the person who has the hearing problem pay close attention to others when they speak by watching their face and body motion. This is hampered by wearing a mask as we have been asked to do recently. 

 

How can I help—
-In a group, include people with a hearing loss
-find a quiet place to talk—especially restaurant and social gatherings
-stand in good lighting and use facial expression and other gestures
-face the person and speak clearly. Use eye contact
-speak a little more loudly but do not shout
-speak at reasonable speed
-do not hide mouth, eat or chew gum
-repeat if necessary using different words
-only one person talks at a time.
-be patient
(information condensed from NIH aging publication on hearing loss) 
More information available MN Dept Deaf and Hard of Hearing 651-431-5940

 

Dear Lord, keep us, and our families in your tender care.  Amen

 

Rachel Boyum

United Lutheran Parish Nurse