The Ins and Outs of Long-Term Care Facilities and Hearing Aids

It’s a fact that if you live long enough, you will likely experience age-related hearing loss and need to wear hearing aids. Likewise, some older adults with chronic health conditions may end up living in a long-term care facility.

Research shows that anywhere from 70 to 90% of people in long-term care have hearing loss, yet the majority of that hearing loss is unknown to the staff. A study of 279 nursing home residents revealed that only 30 out of the 279 home residents had a screening for hearing loss within the past year. Even more surprising, 81% of the residents had not received any hearing care whatsoever.

For those who need the extra care a long-term care facility can provide, there are often pressing health care needs that require attention. Though hearing loss may not be as critical as some other concerns, it is important that it’s addressed. It’s important that long-term care residents who have hearing aids wear them. If they don’t, they may feel even more isolated and depressed than necessary. Plus, hearing aids can help residents hear instructions from staff or important conversations with family and friends.

So how do you navigate this important concern if your loved one is in a long-term care facility?

  • Be sure to talk with the care team when your loved one is admitted to the facility.
  • Let the team know if the person has difficulty hearing, and most importantly, be sure to tell them if the individual wears hearing aids.
  • If the person wears hearing aids, request staff help them put their hearing aids in each morning and take them out each evening. This can be similar to a medication plan when medications are delivered in the morning and evening, hearing aids can be incorporated too. Battery-powered hearing aids should be placed in an easily identifiable container for safekeeping every night, and rechargeable hearing aids should be placed in their docking station.
  • Be sure you provide staff with a supply of hearing aid batteries so they can help change the batteries in your loved one’s hearing aids.
  • Write your loved one’s name or initials on their hearing aids so if they become lost, they can be easily identified.
  • Ask staff to always check for your loved one’s hearing aids before they collect the laundry or change the bed sheets. Hearing aids are frequently removed and placed in a shirt or pants pocket, or are lost in bed, and many have been lost in the laundering process in long-term care facilities.
  • Be sure accidental loss and damage coverage on your loved one’s hearing aids is up to date. This will help cover the cost of new devices if they do get lost or laundered.
  • Check into a cord and clip system that hooks onto the hearing aids on one end and clips to the resident’s clothing on the other. This can keep hearing aids from falling on the floor and getting stepped on or swept up with the trash.
  • Check with the facility where your loved one is staying to see if they have on-site audiology care. Some facilities do offer this as a patient convenience.
  • Ask your loved one’s audiologist if they have other recommendations for their hearing care while they are staying in a long-term care facility.
  • If possible, continue to keep appointments for your loved one with their audiologist and go with them. These appointments can be important in making sure they continue to hear well while in long-term care, especially if they have a condition that causes them to lose weight or that causes their hearing or cognitive abilities to decline further.

Associated Audiologists has eight convenient locations, six in Kansas in Overland Park, Prairie Village, Shawnee Mission, Leavenworth, Lawrence and Manhattan; and two in Missouri in Kansas City and Independence. We have 16 doctoral-level audiologists who specialize in diagnosing and treating hearing loss and we offer prescription hearing devices to fit every budget from the world’s most respected manufacturers, including Widex, Phonak, ReSound, Signia and Starkey.

Schedule an appointment with a doctoral-level audiologist.