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Refusal to wear hearing aids

Aggie79

Registered User
Nov 6, 2018
13
Hi all,

I'm sure this is something that will have been asked before, but I couldn't find a thread that covered precisely our issues.

My grandfather has very poor hearing, which exacerbates the isolation he experiences in social situations. He cannot follow general conversation and when I speak to him on the phone he often cannot hear me so our "chats" (mainly just me wittering on for as long as I can) are cut short. If he's anywhere public with background noise, or in a scenario where people speak in groups, then forget it, he retreats into his own head or nods off. At home, he has the TV on so loud the whole set vibrates, making it an unpleasant environment for the carers at times.

At considerable expense, he does have digital hearing aids. They are small and fiddly, with little tubes that feed into his ear hole from the main unit that wraps around the back of his ear. We have all the usual problems with his breaking them whenever he thinks the batteries need replacing (buying batteries goes through phases of being an obsession), he usually puts them in their box without switching them off etc etc. But the main problem is that you really have to bully him into wearing them. My mum or the carers carefully put them on him, making sure they're appropriately positioned, but within minutes he's whipped them off and put them in his pocket. (They're frequently misplaced as a result.)

We can take some measure towards trying to tackle the other problems, but the main one we're looking for advice on dealing with is how to get him to wear them. He insists (and can even get quite angry) that he hears perfectly well without them, and simply does. not. need. them!

Does anyone have any tips on how to get him to wear them, even just for the most crucial moments? He attends several interactive groups to try to keep him active, but won't be getting the benefit if he can't follow proceedings. We're having a family lunch in a restaurant for his 90th birthday in a couple of weeks, and he'll just be so left out if he can't hear what's being said.

Thanks in advance for any advice.
 

Sarasa

Registered User
Apr 13, 2018
867
Hi @Aggie79, you may have left it too late for your grandfather to find hearing aids useful. Your brain needs to adjust to wearing them, and unlike glasses no hearing aid is ever going to completely correct hearing loss. I'm a long time aid wearer and without aids I probably can hear less than 10% of what is going on, with them it's about 60/70% so a lot better, but still far from perfect.
I tried to persuade my Mother in Law to use the (NHS) aids she got. Like your granddad she found them too fiddly to put in without help, was scared as to what noises she couldn't place were and generally thought she didn't need them. If I was around all the time I might have had some success, but I only see her once a month or so, so.
Hearing aids are not comfortable, you get used to them in time, so I understand why your grandfather takes them out. Phones are tricky, I've never worked out how to use them properly with a landline phone, you have to put the handset behind your ear, and I use my mobile on speaker phone. I use subtitles on the TV so the volume can be comfortable for everyone else. Can your grandfather still read at a fast enough speed? My retired academic mother in law can no longer do that, so no more foreign language films. Turning them off is a fiddle as you have to slightly open the battery case. It's very easy to open it too wide making the battery fall out or not wide enough so they are still on.
Finally if you want to persevere go to his GP and asked to be referred to the local audiology clinic. There will probably be a long waiting list. The aids from there for people with not too severe loss are the same as you pay and arm and a leg for privately. Yes private ones have fancy features like Bluetooth (I'd love a set of those so I could sync them to my phone), but will your grandfather use those anyway?
 

Agzy

Registered User
Nov 16, 2016
1,020
Moreton, Wirral. UK.
Hi @Aggie79, you may have left it too late for your grandfather to find hearing aids useful. Your brain needs to adjust to wearing them, and unlike glasses no hearing aid is ever going to completely correct hearing loss. I'm a long time aid wearer and without aids I probably can hear less than 10% of what is going on, with them it's about 60/70% so a lot better, but still far from perfect.
I tried to persuade my Mother in Law to use the (NHS) aids she got. Like your granddad she found them too fiddly to put in without help, was scared as to what noises she couldn't place were and generally thought she didn't need them. If I was around all the time I might have had some success, but I only see her once a month or so, so.
Hearing aids are not comfortable, you get used to them in time, so I understand why your grandfather takes them out. Phones are tricky, I've never worked out how to use them properly with a landline phone, you have to put the handset behind your ear, and I use my mobile on speaker phone. I use subtitles on the TV so the volume can be comfortable for everyone else. Can your grandfather still read at a fast enough speed? My retired academic mother in law can no longer do that, so no more foreign language films. Turning them off is a fiddle as you have to slightly open the battery case. It's very easy to open it too wide making the battery fall out or not wide enough so they are still on.
Finally if you want to persevere go to his GP and asked to be referred to the local audiology clinic. There will probably be a long waiting list. The aids from there for people with not too severe loss are the same as you pay and arm and a leg for privately. Yes private ones have fancy features like Bluetooth (I'd love a set of those so I could sync them to my phone), but will your grandfather use those anyway?
Hi all,

I'm sure this is something that will have been asked before, but I couldn't find a thread that covered precisely our issues.

My grandfather has very poor hearing, which exacerbates the isolation he experiences in social situations. He cannot follow general conversation and when I speak to him on the phone he often cannot hear me so our "chats" (mainly just me wittering on for as long as I can) are cut short. If he's anywhere public with background noise, or in a scenario where people speak in groups, then forget it, he retreats into his own head or nods off. At home, he has the TV on so loud the whole set vibrates, making it an unpleasant environment for the carers at times.

At considerable expense, he does have digital hearing aids. They are small and fiddly, with little tubes that feed into his ear hole from the main unit that wraps around the back of his ear. We have all the usual problems with his breaking them whenever he thinks the batteries need replacing (buying batteries goes through phases of being an obsession), he usually puts them in their box without switching them off etc etc. But the main problem is that you really have to bully him into wearing them. My mum or the carers carefully put them on him, making sure they're appropriately positioned, but within minutes he's whipped them off and put them in his pocket. (They're frequently misplaced as a result.)

We can take some measure towards trying to tackle the other problems, but the main one we're looking for advice on dealing with is how to get him to wear them. He insists (and can even get quite angry) that he hears perfectly well without them, and simply does. not. need. them!

Does anyone have any tips on how to get him to wear them, even just for the most crucial moments? He attends several interactive groups to try to keep him active, but won't be getting the benefit if he can't follow proceedings. We're having a family lunch in a restaurant for his 90th birthday in a couple of weeks, and he'll just be so left out if he can't hear what's being said.

Thanks in advance for any advice.
I am very hard of hearing and wear 2 aids of the loop over ear NHS type and yes, they do have user issues and I am a carer and don’t have dementia but can imagine how hard it can be. Regarding TV, a local charity has fitted the ‘loop system’ in the lounge and when hearing aids on T setting it is brilliant but can impede hearing other sounds including the speech of others. Hearing aids can cause inner ear itching and wax can block the tubing and are fiddly indeed to clean. I have worn them for over 25 years and still have problems so I imaging it could be a real issue for dementia sufferers.
 

Evoque

Registered User
Mar 14, 2017
48
My mum was fitted with hearing aids in 2017, but I eventually found the whole thing so stressful - I would put them in for her in the morning, then return from work in the evening to find she had taken them out. I got fed up of hunting for them because the "Where did you leave them?" question used to produce random answers - she thought she was being helpful, bless her, but they would turn up in the oddest of places, and sometimes go missing for days.

When I got carers in for her, they did the hearing aid thing in the morning, but I would get notes saying they couldn't find them, etc. etc. I think Mum took them out straight after they'd been put in - I suppose they feel a bit weird to start with. Also, they would sometimes fall out of their own accord, if they hadn't been put in correctly. Mum also claimed that she could hear better without them?!!

In the end I stopped encouraging her to wear them. Nowadays I just speak loudly and look straight at her when I'm talking to her. :-(
 

Weasell

Registered User
Oct 21, 2019
60
My mother has the TV on the highest volume it will operate at. I sometime wonder when the speakers will blow up.
In my opinion it is not her hearing that causes the problem, it is the effect the dementia has on her processing the sounds that reach the ears.
I am not sure what stage your grandad is at but I have now given up trying to alter my mother’s choices. Unless a choice is dangerous I let her get her own way, Example (me) where are the fresh chicken breasts we purchased at Tesco yesterday? (Mum) “They are in the bin they were out of date”. (Me) oh ok then!
There is no point in nagging or correcting it will only bring unhappiness, suggesting looking at the date on the calendar will simple cause unpleasantness.
The family communicate with her via an Alexa show ( you can see demonstrations on you tube)
I purchased a sound amplification telephone from amazon ( not great but better than nothing)
Calls are kept short,( it’s the thought that counts???)
Could it be your grandad has realised he can not longer follow multi person conversations even with the hearing aids, and he has learnt that if someone really wants to talk to him they will get close, make eye contact and speak clearly? Hence he doesn’t want to wear the hearing aids whatever you do.
I realise non of this actually answers your question. Wishing you well and hope you all have a lovely dinner!
 

Aggie79

Registered User
Nov 6, 2018
13
Hi All,

Thanks for getting back to me. I fear @Sarasa might be right about it being too late, but in truth he did wear hearing aids before my Nana passed away, and before his dementia got as bad as it is now, though they were a different kind. I can't remember why they were changed but it was because he was suddenly struggling with the old ones for whatever reason.

He's such a crafty old fox who still has enough wits about him to make people (who don't know him and therefore don't know that 80% of what he says is inaccurate/the plot to a TV programme he recently watched) think he's fine! I'll watch my mum put them in for him, then watch as he takes them out and slips them into his pocket as soon as her back is turned. If we try to explain to him (very loudly) that he will hear us so much better with them in he says "Pardon?" with a wink and a chuckle. He's adamant he doesn't need them.

You might be right @Weasell. It might be that he has decided he's not bothered about keeping up with general conversation and it's only worth bothering with someone who talks slowly, loudly and directly to him. But this does mean than he zones out of any family gatherings and spends much of his time in his own bubble or snoozing at the table. My Nana used to nudge him to keep him awake, but we've by and large started to just let him have a quick kip even when in company.

I think it's just difficult to reach a point of "letting him win", especially on the front of the hearing aids, because we're aware that it increases his isolation. My mum has made arrangements for him to attend three different social gatherings a week that are centred around group activity. He'll miss out on participating if he can't hear.

Subtitles are on the TV all the time, it makes no difference to the volume levels. I think he has them on out of habit rather than because he reads them nowadays. Will look into the loop system mentioned by @Agzy for the TV, and the a sound amplifier for the phone (thanks @Weasell). @Evoque - your experience sounds all too familiar. The treasure hunt for lost aids is a regular occurrence!
 

Sarasa

Registered User
Apr 13, 2018
867
@Aggie79 , it could be that your granddad no longer can follow multiple conversations, heating aids or no. One of the first signs I noticed of my mum’s cognitive decline was her inability to follow general family chat. She would monopolise the conversation rather than listening and chipping in. I thought she was being rude, but now I see it was the start of something else. Her hearing is still pretty good for her age.
 

Bod

Registered User
Aug 30, 2013
1,212
Had a girlfriend once, her father couldn't hear her, sat next to him, at home. Put him in a noisy bar, he could hear me ask if he wanted another beer!

Bod
 

Linbrusco

Registered User
Mar 4, 2013
1,603
Auckland...... New Zealand
:)Im 52 and have one hearing aid.
Its digital also that hooks over your ear and a tiny tube that goes into your ear canal.
When I get home from work I cant wait to take it out, and I almost never wear it at home otherwise. Drives my husband and kids batty :)
It took me ages to get used to it, with a slight hissing noise, and the itchiness in my ear from time to time.
Maybe its worth talking to Audiologist about any other types that are less obtrusive or some other kind of amplification aid.
 

CardiffGirlInEssex

Registered User
Oct 6, 2018
138
My mother (PWD) won't wear her hearing aid, claims it doesn't work for various completely weird reasons. Then complains no one talks to her! We cannot win and have given up trying. Her hearing loss is significant but I think about 50% of the problem is brain
deterioration rather than the mechanics of her ear. She has no hearing at all in one ear due to a long term degenerative condition.
 

cobden 28

Registered User
Dec 15, 2017
41
Hi all,

I'm sure this is something that will have been asked before, but I couldn't find a thread that covered precisely our issues.

My grandfather has very poor hearing, which exacerbates the isolation he experiences in social situations. He cannot follow general conversation and when I speak to him on the phone he often cannot hear me so our "chats" (mainly just me wittering on for as long as I can) are cut short. If he's anywhere public with background noise, or in a scenario where people speak in groups, then forget it, he retreats into his own head or nods off. At home, he has the TV on so loud the whole set vibrates, making it an unpleasant environment for the carers at times.

At considerable expense, he does have digital hearing aids. They are small and fiddly, with little tubes that feed into his ear hole from the main unit that wraps around the back of his ear. We have all the usual problems with his breaking them whenever he thinks the batteries need replacing (buying batteries goes through phases of being an obsession), he usually puts them in their box without switching them off etc etc. But the main problem is that you really have to bully him into wearing them. My mum or the carers carefully put them on him, making sure they're appropriately positioned, but within minutes he's whipped them off and put them in his pocket. (They're frequently misplaced as a result.)

We can take some measure towards trying to tackle the other problems, but the main one we're looking for advice on dealing with is how to get him to wear them. He insists (and can even get quite angry) that he hears perfectly well without them, and simply does. not. need. them!

Does anyone have any tips on how to get him to wear them, even just for the most crucial moments? He attends several interactive groups to try to keep him active, but won't be getting the benefit if he can't follow proceedings. We're having a family lunch in a restaurant for his 90th birthday in a couple of weeks, and he'll just be so left out if he can't hear what's being said.

Thanks in advance for any advice.
My elderly Mum(88) is as deaf as a post and has to be constantly reminded to put her blessed hearing aids in before anyone tries to hold a conversation with her, and by the time she's hunted around and found them, and then fiddled around putting them in her ears, the person trying to talk to her has usually forgotten what they were going to say so conversation is very difficult.

Currently Mum is in hospital recovering from peritonitis, having been takin in on Christmas Day morning; she refused to take her hearing aids into hospital with her in case she lost one of them; the meeting today with the Care Manager to discuss her discharge was therefore difficult because not only was the CM herself deaf and a hearing aid wearer but there were other people's visitors in the ward and it was a struggle to get Mum to hear what I was saying to her. I had to sit very close, look her straight in the eye when I spoke, as well as enunciate clearly. It goes without saying that I had to repeat everything several times, raising my voice at each repetition.

Being a stroke survivor myself I find stress like this very tiring and it results in my speech becoming very faint and hesitant (as well as giving me a dry throat), which makes it even more difficult for Mum to hear what I'm trying to say to her.
 

Vitesse

Registered User
Oct 26, 2016
150
My husband has worn hearing aids for the last 20 years or so. The nhs aids he has are the bigger, uglier type and he has always refused to wear them!! He has privately bought ones that fit inside his ears. He has always had a problem when in noisy environments, and would take them out. Since he has had dementia, that became more frequent, to the extent that in restaurants etc he would regularly take them out, leaving me sitting with no chance of conversation with him!! Now, his hearing in his left ear has deteriorated to the extent that the hearing aid is useless and cannot be adjusted sufficiently for him to hear anything. The problem with his dementia is that he doesn’t understand that, and keeps telling me the aid is not working, needs a new one, puts new batteries in it every day!!
It is difficult to work out whether it’s the persons hearing or their ability to comprehend that is the main issue. I’m afraid it seems yet another problem for the carer to contend with. Some days I am even more exhausted with trying to get him to hear what I’m saying and then wonder if he understands anyway!
 

Susan11

Registered User
Nov 18, 2018
1,980
I have found with Mum that when she doesn't wear her hearing aids or they have gone missing I always have to shout at her so she can hear me. There is no way of shouting without sounding annoyed. I've tried every way of raising my voice enough so Mum can hear but no matter what I do I sound annoyed. I don't want her to think I'm annoyed with her all the time. Sometimes when she eventually catches what I say she'll actually say " There's no need to shout at me "
Susan
 

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
70,399
Kent
Hearing aids can be very intrusive and hearing loss can change with dementia if the brain loses the ability to process sound in the usual way.

It`s a double loss for people with dementia who have difficulty in accepting change or instruction.

Occasionally I hear the most unexpected sounds which surprise people and make them think I`m over exaggerating my deafness which might be an explanation for those who sometimes think deaf people have selective hearing loss.
 

Aggie79

Registered User
Nov 6, 2018
13
@Aggie79 , it could be that your granddad no longer can follow multiple conversations, heating aids or no. One of the first signs I noticed of my mum’s cognitive decline was her inability to follow general family chat. She would monopolise the conversation rather than listening and chipping in. I thought she was being rude, but now I see it was the start of something else. Her hearing is still pretty good for her age.
Yes, I fear this is very much the case. Though his hearing is also terrible! So it's a combination of the two.
 

Aggie79

Registered User
Nov 6, 2018
13
Had a girlfriend once, her father couldn't hear her, sat next to him, at home. Put him in a noisy bar, he could hear me ask if he wanted another beer!

Bod
Haha! Don;t get me started on alcohol! He's not allowed to drink because it interferes with one of his medications, but he still watched a bottle of wine go round the table like a hawk!
 

Aggie79

Registered User
Nov 6, 2018
13
:)Im 52 and have one hearing aid.
Its digital also that hooks over your ear and a tiny tube that goes into your ear canal.
When I get home from work I cant wait to take it out, and I almost never wear it at home otherwise. Drives my husband and kids batty :)
It took me ages to get used to it, with a slight hissing noise, and the itchiness in my ear from time to time.
Maybe its worth talking to Audiologist about any other types that are less obtrusive or some other kind of amplification aid.
It does seem like this particular model isn't very popular precisely because it's so uncomfortable. It's just so expensive! Not really something you can spend money trialling a variety of types as, the chance are, he's just going to refuse to wear any kind seeing as he insists he can hear perfectly well.
 

Aggie79

Registered User
Nov 6, 2018
13
My mother (PWD) won't wear her hearing aid, claims it doesn't work for various completely weird reasons. Then complains no one talks to her! We cannot win and have given up trying. Her hearing loss is significant but I think about 50% of the problem is brain
deterioration rather than the mechanics of her ear. She has no hearing at all in one ear due to a long term degenerative condition.
Does seem like the general consensus is that it's not a battle worth fighting, sadly.
 

Aggie79

Registered User
Nov 6, 2018
13
My elderly Mum(88) is as deaf as a post and has to be constantly reminded to put her blessed hearing aids in before anyone tries to hold a conversation with her, and by the time she's hunted around and found them, and then fiddled around putting them in her ears, the person trying to talk to her has usually forgotten what they were going to say so conversation is very difficult.

Currently Mum is in hospital recovering from peritonitis, having been takin in on Christmas Day morning; she refused to take her hearing aids into hospital with her in case she lost one of them; the meeting today with the Care Manager to discuss her discharge was therefore difficult because not only was the CM herself deaf and a hearing aid wearer but there were other people's visitors in the ward and it was a struggle to get Mum to hear what I was saying to her. I had to sit very close, look her straight in the eye when I spoke, as well as enunciate clearly. It goes without saying that I had to repeat everything several times, raising my voice at each repetition.

Being a stroke survivor myself I find stress like this very tiring and it results in my speech becoming very faint and hesitant (as well as giving me a dry throat), which makes it even more difficult for Mum to hear what I'm trying to say to her.
So sorry to hear your mum's had such a rough time. Sounds like Christmas can't have been much fun for you, and you've had several stressful weeks since. Glad it sounds as though she's due to be discharged. Hope that means you'll have some respite too.
 

Aggie79

Registered User
Nov 6, 2018
13
My husband has worn hearing aids for the last 20 years or so. The nhs aids he has are the bigger, uglier type and he has always refused to wear them!! He has privately bought ones that fit inside his ears. He has always had a problem when in noisy environments, and would take them out. Since he has had dementia, that became more frequent, to the extent that in restaurants etc he would regularly take them out, leaving me sitting with no chance of conversation with him!! Now, his hearing in his left ear has deteriorated to the extent that the hearing aid is useless and cannot be adjusted sufficiently for him to hear anything. The problem with his dementia is that he doesn’t understand that, and keeps telling me the aid is not working, needs a new one, puts new batteries in it every day!!
It is difficult to work out whether it’s the persons hearing or their ability to comprehend that is the main issue. I’m afraid it seems yet another problem for the carer to contend with. Some days I am even more exhausted with trying to get him to hear what I’m saying and then wonder if he understands anyway!
Yes a lot of this sounds very familiar unfortunately. My Grandad also gets stuck in patterns of behaviour in which he'll ask to be taken to the audiologist to buy new aids, or buy new batteries etc. As exhausting as it is to try to have a conversation with him, it may well be slightly less exhausting than trying to manage his behaviour around the aids.

Problem is the group he attends (arranged by an Alzheimers charity) is very focussed on conversation and small group activities and if he can't follow the proceedings, it's a bit of a waste of a place in the group that could otherwise be benefiting someone else.