At the window with Dementia - Episode 9
Laura Banner

Laura Banner

Family Nurse Practitioner, Dementia Trainer & Advocate,
Keynote Speaker (Available for speaking engagements on Dementia)

Are they listening?

For all you, family members, and caregivers of someone who has a hearing impairment, I have a question for you.

Do you ever wonder if your loved one is actually listening to you?

Do you notice that they asked the same question over and over and over again in a relatively short period of time, to the point that you become frustrated and you wonder, are they even listening to me, or? Have you wondered is their memory impairment progressed to the point that they are forgetting the information that quickly.

Well, I have another possibility, what if they never actually heard the information the first time you said it.

What if the issue is, actually, that they’re hearing impaired.
We know that part of the aging process includes hearing impairment.

And so oftentimes it’s picked up during our regular wellness exams, they tend to occur twice a year, sometimes a little more sometimes a little less. And so perhaps in the past, your loved one was told that yes, in fact, their hearing is not quite what it used to be, but no one really gave much thought to it didn’t take any action, didn’t go to an audiologist who is a hearing specialist. And just like memory tends to progressively decline, so does hearing loss. So again, every time they ask the question, maybe they’re asking because they didn’t actually hear the answer the first time. What we know is that when people have chronic issues such as cognitive impairment, they tend to go to the doctor less for regular wellness exams. They go for problem-focused exams, for example, perhaps they have an upper respiratory infection or a urinary tract infection, but just for their regular wellness exams, well, unfortunately, that tends to be less frequent. And it’s during those exams again that hearing is and if not should be evaluated, so if your loved one is going for a wellness exam,
and their hearing is not being checked, please ask that it be evaluated. Because although that won’t impact their memory indirectly, we may find that they do better because they’re hearing the information that they weren’t getting the first time.

So what are some clues that maybe someone is having some hearing issues? Well, one of the obvious ones is TV volume tends to get turned up people in the household become a little bit annoyed if that’s not too unkind to admit. And so you always have to ask for the volume to be turned down. Have you noticed that your loved one seems to be looking at your lips when you’re speaking? Maybe they’re trying to read your lips because they can’t hear your voice. Maybe they’re not turning around. When you call for them, or the sound of the phone, they’re not turning to that sound. These are all little clues that perhaps there’s some hearing impairment going on. So again, It’s not that it’s going to directly impact their memory, but it is going to allow us to have a more accurate evaluation of memory impairment. Because, is it really fair that we evaluate memory on information that they never heard the first time? Now, a lot of people just don’t want to wear hearing aids. They feel uncomfortable. Maybe they feel like it makes them look older, they feel that it’s just too expensive to buy hearing aids. These days hearing aids are so advanced, you can get Bluetooth hearing aids, hearing aids that play music, hearing aids that do just about everything. And yes, they are quite costly, but that’s not the type of hearing device that your loved one actually needs.

What we need if they have hearing impairment is simply to hear, and those types of devices are not going to be as cost-prohibitive as you may think. They certainly warrant you exploring the different options. We know that memory impairment is progressive, and again, so is hearing impairment. So we need to do everything we possibly can do to help them retain and to gather the information and hearing is part of that process.

So my suggestion to you is if your loved ones’ hearing has not been evaluated recently, get it checked. If you notice that your loved one is exhibiting some of those behaviors that I talked about, not turning around to sound turning up the TV volume or reading your lips get their hearing evaluated. It’s amazing how much of a difference it will make if they’re able to hear the information the first time, and for all of you, caregivers, it will certainly make your day much less stressful if you’re not repeating yourself over and over and over again if that could be avoided by your loved one hearing the information the first time.

Anyway, something to consider.
I hope you find this podcast helpful. Feel free to go ahead and reach out to me, either through Instagram or through my website, send me a direct message on either platform.
If you have any questions or if there’s a particular topic you’d like me to address during one of my podcasts.
I hope you decide to subscribe to my podcast.
Every Tuesday, I release new episodes, so please check back.
Thanks for listening, and have a great day.

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