How to help your elderly loved ones hear better

TAMPA - Have your parents been reluctant to get a hearing aid because they are afraid it will make them seem old? These devices aren't what they used to be and may be able to improve their quality of life.

Nettie Rossi and her daughter, Pam, enjoy their talks together. But there came a time when communication wasn't so easy.

“She constantly said what? What? What?” her daughter said. “So we were all getting tired of repeating ourselves.”
 
Nettie explains, “I didn't want to get a hearing aid because I never thought I was old. So a hearing aid to me was giving in.”
 
But her kids were persistent. Pam says she told Nettie, “Mom, you really need hearing aids. Can you please get some hearing aids? You know, we'll help you. We’ll  go with you. Whatever you need us to do.”
 
Dr. Kelly Hansen of Trinity Hearing and Balance Center said there are signs that adult children of aging parents should be aware of when it comes to hearing.
 
“If the TV or the radio is up a little bit louder than what most would listen to, if they have difficulty hearing on the telephone, if you have to repeat things back to them,” she said.
 
And Hansen said there's an important question you should ask your parents.
 
“Have you noticed you have any ringing in your ears or any noises in your ears?” 
 
And watch their behavior. 
 
“They decrease their social interaction,” she said. “They become withdrawn.”
 
Hansen, who wears a hearing aid herself, said the devices now are less noticeable  and shouldn't be a reflection of age.
 
“Gone are the days when hearing aids are so big,” she said. “They are definitely a lot smaller. There are even some invisible options.”
 
And, she says, there's one important factor in choosing a device.
 
“Depending on what the hearing loss is,” she said, “that is what helps us determine what hearing aid is the best for an individual.”
 
Nettie said the stigma of wearing a hearing aid quickly wore off.
 
“When I was able to hear a little bit better, then I felt I'm not being as misunderstood and I misunderstood them a lot.”

 

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