The hearing loss epidemic may be louder than we think. Hearing loss is more than just being able to understand and process sounds. It is critical to communicating and connecting to the world.
Although the prevalence of hearing loss among ageing populations may not be surprising, the negative consequences of leaving hearing impairment untreated are staggering. Here are just a few:
1: Increased risk of dementia, loneliness and social isolation, and depression.
2: Increased cost per resident due to the management cross-morbidity health conditions.
3: Decreased return on investments in your community.
Although hearing loss may feel like an insurmountable problem, communities can do plenty of things to break down hearing loss barriers. Here a few things that can be done:
1: Train staff on best communication practices. This includes conscious efforts to face the person in the conversation. Face-to-face communication can yield the best results. Speak simply and rephrase if necessary. Do not yell!
2: Invest in environmental modifications, including acoustic materials that absorb sound such as carpet, and choose locations that will not have a lot of background noise when conversing with hearing-impaired residents.
3: Encourage residents and their families to consider assistive listening devices where group listening options are not available or practicable.