Persuading someone that their hearing is impaired can be difficult, but being unable to hear is serious for several reasons. Ear problems also can affect balance, and may lead to falls. We’ve produced this short guide to hearing loss in the elderly which will point you in the right direction for help and support.
Medical Check ups
If you’re having to shout down the telephone at Mum or Dad, their tv is turned up full volume, or they’ve become a bit unsteady on their pins, then it might be time to check things out. The first course of action is to visit the GP who can see if there is a need to syringe the ears to remove excess wax, or if there is an infection in the ears. There’s also a simple test online: https://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/
Having ruled out other causes, the GP can make a referral to an audiologist for a free hearing test on the NHS, but this may take some time. Hearing tests are also free of charge at some pharmacies and opticians.
Hearing Aids options
If a hearing aid is found to be necessary there are some are available free of charge on the NHS, and these can be obtained at opticians and pharmacies too. The NHS hearing aids are quite basic and sit behind the ear. If cost is not a problem the latest hearing aids sit inside the ear and are not very obvious to other people, particularly if longer hair covers the ear. Nowadays there are additional features in state of the art hearing aids, such as the facility to block out ambient and background noise.
Aids for the home
Aids can also be used in the home that enhance sound and make it easier to hear – for instance for the television, telephone, door or essentials such as burglar and smoke alarms. Councils vary with their provision of such aids, so the first call should be to them, to find out what they can offer to elderly people wanting to stay in their own home.
For information about hearing aids and help in the home you can find help at the Disabled Living Foundation: http://www.dlf.org.uk/factsheets/hearing-speech
Funding available for the hard of hearing
If hearing loss is severe it counts as a disability. It is also important to find out about which allowances and benefits are relevant and if relevant a Disabled Person’s Railcard can be purchased for £20 a year. The Citizens Advice Bureau can provide information about allowances for the disabled: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/older-people/benefits-for-older-people/.