Do you work with seniors or perhaps have a family member who is reluctant to wear their eyeglasses or hearing aids? Here are some tips for helping those people feel more inclined to use them, as not being able to see or hear properly can have consequences ranging from nuisance level to the fatal.
The Importance of Wearing Eyeglasses and Hearing Aids
If you think a senior not wearing their eyeglasses or hearing aids is just a little problem, try this experiment. Take an old pair of glasses and smear them with petroleum jelly. Now, stuff some cotton in your ears or don a pair of earplugs, and go about your daily life. Within less than an hour, you'll likely find that even the simplest tasks are unpleasant or even dangerous.
Seniors who abstain from using their glasses or hearing aids are subject to the following issues:
Encouraging the Use of Eyeglasses
There are several reasons why seniors typically don't wear their eyeglasses. In some cases, their prescription may no longer be effective. They need to have a new eye exam and get new lenses.
Other seniors balk at the poor fit or lack of comfort with their current specs. This is another situation that is easily remedied with a trip to the optometry shop. Seniors today will find that many eyeglass frames and lenses are much more comfortable and easier to get used to than those of past decades.
A big problem many seniors have is that once they find appropriate eyewear, they misplace it. Having a chain around the neck can eliminate this issue. If a senior is simply using inexpensive nonprescription magnifying lenses ("readers"), it may help to have several pairs and distribute them around the house, leaving a pair in the bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and living room. Having at least one extra pair of glasses is a good idea anyway, in case one pair breaks.
While the cost of replacing old glasses may take a bite out of the budget, the cost of not wearing vision help can ultimately be far higher. A supplemental health insurance plan can assist with the cost.
Helping with Hearing Aids
Seniors often have a host of reasons they avoid wearing their hearing aids, if they even get them in the first place. For some, vanity gets in the way. These seniors can be assured that there are now hearing aids that strike a perfect balance between being unobtrusive and being so small that they are difficult to insert or easily lost. In the ear models (ITE) fit in the convex areas of the ear and are appropriate for mild to severe hearing loss. They have larger batteries, volume control, and directional microphones (see below).
Open fit hearing aids cover a similar wide range of hearing loss and are also minimally visible. They are a good choice for both low and high frequency sounds.
Many seniors received hearing aids years or even decades ago, when hearing loss technology was more limited. Today's digital hearing aids offer features for specific use:
If a senior has problems with their hearing aid being clogged with earwax, discomfort, whistling, or other noises, they should return to the audiologist for help. Many seniors don't know or are reluctant to do this, but it's necessary to iron out any concerns that could prevent regular hearing aid use.
Like with eyeglasses, cost can be a factor in hearing aids, and Medicaid does not cover them. However, there are nonprofit and other organizations that do help seniors with hearing aid expenses over and above those covered by any supplemental insurance. Ask an audiologist, like those at Beltone Hearing Care Center, for help. The cost of not wearing a hearing aid is just too high, both in potential for harm and reduction in quality of life.
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