1. safetyboots

    safetyboots Registered User

    Dec 31, 2011
    Does anybody know if deafness is a sympton of dementia,
    My Mother was diagnosed with vascular dementia in June, & is now in a Care Home. Her hearing is getting worse & worse, & now she is just staring at me when I talk to her, even when I go really close to her ear. Audiology have checked them, & her aids.
    How do you talk to somebody who just looks at you? .
  2. rajahh

    rajahh Registered User

    Aug 29, 2008
    I don't think my mother ever became deaf but she never responded to me talking to her for the last 4 years of her life.

    For the last 18 months she was in a psychiatric geriatric hospital and only when we walked right up to her chair and held out our hand did she show she had evennoticed anyone.

    She used to get up and walk to the table with us. My father used to feed her baked egg custard ( He did this 3 times a week) plus ice cream, and a cup of tea he provided in a flask. The staff would have provided everything for Mum but it gave Dad something to do during his visit.

    There was absolutely no recognition of any of us, no conversation. I just used to sit there holding her hand with tears falling. She never ever attempted to wipe them away from my face and never showed any sign of distress.

    The deafness may not be totally deafness, just a complete withdrawal.

  3. Chemmy

    Chemmy Registered User

    Nov 7, 2011
    Hello Safetyboots.

    Welcome to talking point. Sorry you're in the position of having to find us on New Year's Day.

    I take it her hearing was OK in the tests? It's probably just her entering the next phase of the dementia, not really understanding what you're saying and so appearing blank as she won't know how to respond.

    I used to take 'props' in with me - simple jigsaw puzzles, a whiteboard and some felt tip pens, picture books, picture dominoes, something you could talk about that she could actually see in front of her rather than chatting about a family member who wasn't there. A family photo album might be a good start as you can chat about the places where the photos were taken and she can just listen. But be prepared(and don't get upset) that she might not recognise people in the photos. Don't confuse her more by asking who they are, just tell her.
  4. ellejay

    ellejay Registered User

    Jan 28, 2011
    Hi there, Boots,
    Did they say her hearing aids were ok, because sometimes my mum (Vas D) just stares at me when I speak to her, but it's more she's not understanding and stares while she's trying to work out what I've said/what it means & how she should respond.

    Take care

    Lin x
  5. Mameeskye

    Mameeskye Registered User

    Aug 9, 2007
    Mum lost the ability early on to understand much of what she was hearing, particularly noises. Hearing is partially a sensory function, controlled by the brain, and although understanding may be there, sense of the sounds heard may not. Mum for example lost the ability to recognise normal household noises early on. She would be startled by doors, vacuum cleaners, hammers etc. if she could not see them. She needed the visual clue to recognize what she was hearing.
  6. PurpleJay

    PurpleJay Registered User

    Nov 2, 2011
    My mum is very hard of hearing and wears 2 hearing aids. The dementia means she does not realise when she needs a battery or they are faulty or she isn't wearing one.

    On good days, mum hears me as usual - you have to speak up and speak clearly but she is ok. On bad days, she will say 'I can't hear what you are saying' and I am sure it is because she is very confused and something isn't connecting if you know what I mean. Sometimes I talk and she just looks at me and I don't know how much she is hearing/understanding as there is little response. Other times, she does hear me.

    Her confusion when bad adds to her imobility and affects her ability to follow instructions to help the people helping her mobilise. I guess this is a similar thing to what happens with her hearing. It makes thing very difficult at times and hospital/care home staff are not always as tuned in to how she 'should' hear as I am so I will arrive and immediately check batteries if she is being deafer than usual where they may just assume it is the dementia.

    Jane x
  7. jan.s

    jan.s Registered User

    Sep 20, 2011
    I was told by the consultant, that the dementia affects the way the brain processes information. This was because my husband finds it hard to see things - well not strictly true, he apparently can see, but takes a long time to process what he can see. I wonder if the same applies to hearing; that Mum can hear the sounds but takes some time to process the information.
    Thinking about it, R is slow to understand when people speak to him at normal speed, and I have to speak slowly and give him time to understand.

  8. safetyboots

    safetyboots Registered User

    Dec 31, 2011
    Thank you,

    Thank you this is exactly what is happening to Mum. I have asked audiology to ask her GP to have her ears syringed but somehow I don' t think this will help much. She is so depressed at the moment, & this can't be helping her.
    Good Luck

  9. annied55

    annied55 Registered User

    Dec 11, 2011
    Hi safetyboots

    So glad this topic has cropped up. Hubbys perception of seeing and hearing has really gone downhill recently. His hearing and eyes have been checked. New tubes on hearing aids ect. Hubbys seems to be able to read large print but not newspapers. His brain cannot keep up with what he is watching on tv and favourite programmes are a mystery to him even watching football !!! Everything has to be said slowly and clearly 3 times. Even then I can tell he has not understood. As you will all know 24/7 can be somewhat wearing. I have read that this is common with AD.Problem is what to do to keep him ticking over. We are playing dominoes, snakes and ladders, pick up sticks, going for walks and finding jobs that are achievable. I have noticed that he "naps" more even when people visit. It"s as though he has run out of petrol
  10. BeckyJan

    BeckyJan Registered User

    Nov 28, 2005
    Hello Safetyboots - glad you found this main section of the Forum.

    I wonder if your Mother would benefit from Talking Mats. This is a link which gives you some idea how they work and it gives a link to a company. I think they are expensive to buy for personal use but I am sure there is a way of adapting a simple system for one's own needs.

    My husband has gone passed this stage but it may help your Mother feel less depressed if communication is made easier for her.


    Best wishes
  11. poster

    poster Registered User

    Dec 28, 2011
    I think deafness is just a sign of old age. Many elderly people are hard of hearing. My father was hard of hearing and he did not have dementia.

    Mind you, I think my mum is hard of hearing, although she does not have a problem hearing what is being said to her, she does turn her television up to the loudest it can go which is far too loud and even my dad with his hearing problem used to keep telling her to turn it down. When I visited my mum for xmas and we watched tv, it was so loud that I ended up with a headache and it was very difficult to converse to her over and above the noise. She does the same with her CD player. It is far too loud. I don't understand this because there is a lady who sits on my mums dinner table in the care home who does have a serious hearing problem and cannot hear a word I say and my mum is not that bad, so why does she feel the need to have her tv and cd player so uncomfortably loud?

    I am going to suggest to the home that she gets a hearing test. But I honestly do not think hearing loss is anything to do with dementia.
  12. PurpleJay

    PurpleJay Registered User

    Nov 2, 2011
    Just to add, my mum has recently had a hearing test and had the wax removed from her ears. It is important to make sure these things are done to help with communication as not being able to hear is depressing and isolating for people. However although her ears are clear and her hearing unchanged since the previous test, there are definatly times when she cannot 'hear' me which I think is the dementia whether it is affecting her hearing or the processing of the sounds she hears, who knows.

    Jane x
  13. Clementine

    Clementine Registered User

    #13 Clementine, Jan 2, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2012
    My ninety year old mother once said to me (when I once again tried to get her to agree to have a hearing aid): "Do you realize that at my age I might not want to hear everything!" I thought this was very philosophical, why would you want to hear any more bad/good news after a long life of ups and downs, perhaps she was just happy in her own quiet world.
    I took this on board and when my mother in law got very deaf we did not insist too much that she should have aids, however she was happy to try and we had first National Health one, then the more expensive smaller ones. But her dementia was already too far advanced, she could not put them in and if I helped her she could not stand the noise. When we visit her now in the Nursing Home we think that her hearing is better than ever but she has no comprehension. I wonder if sometimes severe deafness in an old person is the forerunner of dementia?
  14. http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/261/13/1916.short Original Contribution JAMA

    Relationship of Hearing Impairment to Dementia and Cognitive Dysfunction in Older Adults

    Posted on: Listen Here: Hearing, Seeing: Alzheimer's Information 4 Carers_Caregivers blog
  15. sheenagh

    sheenagh Registered User

    Dec 14, 2009
    Dad has dementia and mum is deaf - a recipe for a terrble Christmas

    Back from a visit home for the 'festive' season. It was terrible. Mum has been saying dad is unchanged - well I guess when you live with it 24/7 it might seem that way but he is in a state - and he is beginning to behave 'inappropriately'. Also, my uncle says that dad is taking other people's shoes at the bowling club and hiding them in his locker. Mum is deaf and now says she will need to get her ears syringed but has to put oil in her ears for a few days before the procedure - and as she hasn't time to do that, then she'll just leave it. But it drives everyone to distraction, especially dad. On Christmas eve they went to bed and I could hear them shouting at each other - an awful, vitriolic argument - that went on until 4 a.m. On Christmas morning Mum sat and opened all her cards and presents (it's her birthday as well) but hadn't wrapped a single present for anyone, let alone her grandchild. After a while, I asked Mum if my son could open what his father and I had given him as he'd been sitting patiently for ages, knowing full well that something he'd asked Santa for was under that tree. Mum agreed and then disappeared bringing her presents for us in their original carrier bags - in spite of the fact that there were rolls of wrapping paper everywhere.
    Mum is adamant that she is going to cope on her own - but at this rate they're going to kill each other, or dad will be thrown out of the bowling club - or arrested for exposure, or inappropriate 'touching'.
    I am in despair.
  16. Lailah A

    Lailah A Registered User

    Jan 3, 2012
    Deafness and Dementia

    My way of dealing with this situation when it was my mum and some years later my friend was to sit in front of them so we could see each other and they could see my body language. I carried on chatting about light hearted things as if there were no problem at all.

    Sometimes, lots of times there was no response, other times there would be a smile or a laugh. I was never put off if they appeared not to hear me. And who knows what they hear and understand even if their facial expressions show no recognition? I came to believe that they understand a lot more than what appears to be so.

    Over the years, I found that 'Communication' is and means much more than speaking and someone visibly or verbally responding. There is touch, brushing hair, looking at photos, taking food in and sharing it.

    At first I found it all so heartbreaking, but then I became determined to find other ways of communicating.

    Don't give up. And the very best of wishes.

    Lailah A
  17. KenC

    KenC Registered User

    Mar 24, 2006
    Co Durham
    I was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia, and over the last two years my hearing has started to go. I now wear two hearing aids, which help me quite a lot, although I was originally fitted with the wrong ones. and that caused problems. Since getting the new pair I am enjoying hearing many things like birds in the garden.

    However I am not sure whether my hearing problem is associated with my dementia.
  18. Terry big

    Terry big Registered User

    Hi. As fare as I no this is one of the last stages to go. My wife is in her final stage now.
    She is bed ridden as lost the use of her legs and is incontinent. Also the dementia as taken her eyesight and she can not chow food any more, I have to feed her with a bottle of what soft foods I can get in it. She dose not know where she is or who I am any more although we have been married for 35 years. You will find that your mum will just look straight through you as though you are not there. If I can give you any advise just let me know as I have been looking after my wife for fifteen years.
  19. Adrian M

    Adrian M Registered User

    Sheenagh - some thoughts for you

    Hi, Sheenagh,

    Sometimes it is time to act for everyone's good. Five years ago my mother who has Alzheimer's and was at the time living in sheltered accommodation with increasing amounts of carer support came to stay with us for Christmas.

    We lived many miles away and my brother and sister both live abroad so I had been supporting Mum from a distance visiting once or twice a month and continually being in touch with her. Mum was lucky in so much as she had supportive friends and her brother and sister in law lived close by.

    We knew that Mum wasn't coping as well as she might have and was very frustrated and distressed at times but you never really know at a long distance what has / is changing day by day. Only when she came to stay was the reality bare for all to see.

    Actually Christmas itself had gone ok - Mum had stayed many times before and was on familiar ground - it all came apart when it was time for her to go home. She couldn't remember anything about her home - not even the town where she had lived for thirty five years - fear set in, distress and tears followed as she knew she had been 'found out' - her memory and her cognitive skills had deteriorated to such an extent but she couldn't admit it to herself let alone us.

    We were very lucky we had a supportive team around us - an excellent community psychiatric nursing team, health visitors, a very friendly and helpful consultant and social services. Our main carers were privately funded, the carers we used were very professional and kept daily records and provided regular feedback.

    For the next few months we agonised about what to do; the feedback I was getting from my Mum's carers was that Mum was frightened to be alone - distressed everytime she was left - not knowing what to do.

    Every visit after that Christmas it was clear things were not improving - they were deteriorating so with support from Mum's brother I took the decision that residential care would be the only realistic option. I talked about it many times with Mum and she said she agreed, but in reality she didn't really understand what it would mean.

    We had a formal assessment completed by social services, supported by the CPN team which independently confirmed the recommendation. Then we came to the most difficult decision of all - where? Do we opt for a care home in her home town where she had lived for 35+years, has her friends, her brother, her church or bring her to a care home near to us where we can visit and support her.

    After much heart searching we made the decison to bring her to a specialist care home near where we live. It felt like we were being selfish, taking Mum away from her friends to make it easier for us, but looking back it has been the right decision.

    Mum has been in the care home for four and a half years and has been fairly stable for the last 3 years although continues to deteriorate in the range of skills and activities she can do. Yes it has been easier for us, her brother has since died and her friends would not be able to provide much day to day support in her current condition. The bottom line however is we know she is being well looked after because we can interact directly with the home and my wife and I can each visit her regularly every week.

    For you my guess is that the worst is not knowing what is really going on - you have seen a snapshot at Christmas but that is all you have. From waht you say I would be concerned for both you parents, many of the things you describe - like the Christmas presents are exactly what I saw with my mother a few years back - little things that aren't quite right. With your Mum already coping with caring for your Dad it is easy to not to notice that she may actually also need help (and not just with deafness) but doesn't realise it.

    My advise would be to seek out professional help both medically and from social services whatever resistance you may receive from your parents initially. Get a proper needs assessment for them both and take it from there. You may need to take hard decisions for them and don't forget yourself - you have to live your life too - so sometimes you may need to be selfish for everyones benefit.
  20. sheenagh

    sheenagh Registered User

    Dec 14, 2009
    Thanks so much Adrian. I did suggest to mum that we should consider something like sheltered accommodation but she went off the deep end. Last time I spoke to the doctor she said mum was difficult and uncooperative and so I guess I may need to be more forceful as the risks are escalating for both of them. Fortunately she has good neighbours who want to help but I am reluctant to let others interfere. I got POA for both of them a few years back when mum had a heart attack but have since discovered mum has taken one out on dad for herself. I am grateful for your thoughts on this and it's definitely time for action.

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