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Transitioning to end-of-life care is a hard decision. It’s emotionally taxing for the patient and their loved ones. For the one in four hospice patients with hearing loss, difficulty communicating with doctors and family makes the process even more challenging.

Managing Medical Care

Hospice addresses medical care, emotional support and financial and legal matters. Those issues often take precedence over their hearing loss, but failing to address your senior’s condition can have serious emotional implications.

For many, hospice focuses heavily on pain management. If your loved one can’t hear related questions or provide insight into their comfort level, they may face further physical discomfort. It’s essential to keep them as comfortable as possible during their final days.

Hearing loss is often mistaken as a symptom of dementia in hospice patients, but dismissing it can leave your loved one feeling marginalized. When decisions are being made on their behalf, they may start to feel like they’re losing control over their well-being, which will cause them unnecessary distress.

It’s important to include your loved one in their medical planning and ensure they understand the decisions being made, so they have autonomy over their care.

Reducing Isolation

Listening is a key component of communication, and it’s even more important to managing feelings of isolation and depression. Imagine facing the transition to end-of-life care and feeling isolated because of your hearing loss.

This is a time for children, grandchildren and friends to meet with your loved one and enjoy their company. Hearing loss can throw a wrench in the special time you have left with them.

Hospice care often includes counseling and stress management to support a patient’s emotional well-being. Your loved one will need to rely on their hearing to get the most from those services that address social, spiritual and religious needs.

How You Can Help

  • If your loved one already has hearing aids, make sure they’re clean and working properly.
  • Encourage your senior to use their hearing aids as much as possible so they don’t miss out on conversations and medical discussions.
  • Ensure a third party is present with your loved one during discussions with their doctor. Ensure they understood the discussion and provide any necessary clarification.
  • Face your loved one and get on their eye level when speaking so they can read your lips and facial expressions.
  • Get your senior’s attention before you talk, but don’t shout. Speaking too loudly will distort your words.
  • Keep writing materials, such as a pen and paper or a dry erase board, handy so your senior can write to bridge any communication gaps.
  • Reduce or eliminate background noise and visual distractions during a conversation.
  • Use personal amplification devices like a tablet or handheld mic that stream audio to your loved one’s hearing aids.

Does your senior loved one require hearing aids? Bring your mom or dad to Audiology & Hearing Services of Charlotte, and we’ll provide them with a thorough hearing evaluation and assistive listening technology. Call 704-412-7975 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.

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