5 Tips for Alzheimer’s Patients with Hearing Loss
As we learn of the connection between hearing loss and cognitive disorders, it’s now more important than ever to do whatever it takes to stop hearing loss in its tracks. Taking a few extra steps to protect your ears can help slow hearing loss related to cognitive disorders.
1. Avoid Loud Noise
Avoid noisy public places like concerts, bars, and sporting events. Be careful when choosing a movie theater to go to, as the volume in some theaters is louder than others. Be mindful of the volume of your music and TV. It’s also wise to invest in protective ear gear like noise-canceling headphones or ear plugs, so if things ever get a bit loud, you’ll be ready for it.
2. Get Regular Hearing Exams
You should take a hearing exam as soon as possible, no matter how slight your hearing loss may seem. Doing so will give you and your doctor a baseline measurement of your hearing abilities to compare future exam results to.
Know the signs of hearing loss and seek corrective treatment as soon as you start to notice them. Be specific when communicating the nature of your hearing loss to your doctor, as its symptoms are similar to symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Their interrelatedness could be relevant when exploring your treatment options.
3. Be Mindful of Oral Hygiene
Poor oral hygiene can actually cause an inflammation of arteries and blood vessels essential for hearing. If you’re the caregiver of someone with Alzheimer’s, be sure to help them stay on top of daily brushing and flossing. It’s possible they may need extra help with the motor skills required to brush or, if they’re also suffering from dementia, even remembering exactly how to brush. You can assist by putting your hand over theirs to help with the motions or pantomiming the gesture as a gentle reminder.
4. Make Interacting with Others a Priority
If you’re experiencing hearing loss, it’s likely that communication has become increasingly difficult for you. But isolating yourself and avoiding interactions with other people is not the answer. Communication with other people is critical for your cognitive development, so you’ll have to make an extra effort to engage yourself in conversation with others. While it may be difficult at first, learning a few communication strategies specifically for people with hearing loss can make conversing much smoother.
5. Consider Getting Assistance
There may come a time when you simply require extra care to get through the day, and that’s ok. There are many different forms of caregiving assistance for people with Alzheimer’s that will be a good fit for someone who’s also experiencing hearing loss. Take some time, now, to learn about these options so that you’ll have the help you need as your Alzheimer’s and hearing loss progress.
Another great assistance option is a service dog. Of course, service dogs are frequently used to assist people who are visually impaired. But now they’re also being trained to assist people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Having a service dog can be an especially wonderful safety precaution for a person who also has hearing loss. Service dogs can be trained to wake their humans up in the morning, alert them to danger, and prevent them from leaving the premises. The added bonus is that they also provide comfort and companionship, which can be a great benefit for anyone who’s feeling increasingly isolated as a result of their Alzheimer’s or hearing loss.
Making an effort to slow your hearing loss is crucial for maintaining your cognitive ability. Accepting your hearing loss and learning to live with it might be the easier option, but it’s not the answer. Take a few extra steps to mitigate your hearing loss and enjoy a greater quality of life because of it.
Jim Vogel and his wife, Caroline, created ElderAction.org after they began caring for their ailing parents. Through that rewarding and sometimes difficult process they’ve learned a lot about senior care and specifically the need for more effective senior mental health and support. Their site offers elder-positive resources and other helpful information on aging. In his spare time, Jim loves fishing, reading, and spending time with his kids.