What to do about hearing loss

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by Amelie5a, Jan 13, 2016.

  1. Amelie5a

    Amelie5a Registered User

    Nov 5, 2014
    91
    Scotland
    I'd love some advice about how best to manage dementia and hearing loss.

    A bit of background. Dad (88) has mixed dementia which, thankfully, has been pretty stable for the last year. Long may it continue....

    He only has hearing in one ear (been like that since his 20's) and in recent years has had several instances of 'sudden' deafness brought on by a build up of wax. After syringing, his hearing has improved substantially, although he's always had a tendency to some hearing issues.

    About 4 weeks ago, it happened again - just woke up one morning, profoundly hard of hearing again. Unfortunately the syringing doesn't appear to have worked this time. A GP visited and said there was still a small amount of wax right down by the eardrum and to persevere with the ear drops. But so far it hasn't made much difference. Hopefully a district nurse will have another look on Friday.

    But meantime poor Dad is pretty cut off from human contact. A TV amplifier device has been an absolute godsend - Dad wears headphones with 'his' volume and I can watch TV with him, using the normal TV sound. But conversation (not that we had a lot before!) is virtually a no-no. I have to almost shout in his ear for him to hear anything. It's certainly not helping his dementia and I'd like to try and improve the situation for him. He's getting more any more fed up with the deafness, aware that he's missing conversation.

    So what to do? I've not got Dad into a hearing practice (Clinic? Shop?) as it's not certain that his hearing has completely gone yet - but if nothing happens district nurse wise, then I'll try and get him in next week. ( Apparently it's six months to get an Audiology appointment on the NHS) One of my concerns though is how he will manage hearing aids.

    I've been researching the different types available. The super-small ones may be great appearance-wise, but with dad's lack of dexterity in his arthritic hands, I fear for ease of daily use. And, looking at other threads here on the forum, it seems that PWD and hearing aids are not an easy combination anyway.

    But given Dad's still at home, is aware of his hearing loss, and can still deal with picking up some new technology if it's very simple, I'd like to try and see what might be possible to help his hearing loss. On the other hand, hearing aids don't come cheap and I don't want to waste Dad's money on something he won't be able to manage.

    Obviously, a hearing specialist can advise on which option might be best for dad, but I'd love to hear from carers about how they've dealt with hearing loss in their caree - the things that might have worked (at least for a while) and any learning along the way.
     
  2. fizzie

    fizzie Registered User

    Jul 20, 2011
    2,731
    My mum had similar with wax build up and then fiddling around trying to remove it but it was really stuck and very very painful after a lot of fiddle faddling with nurses, doctors and pain we wen to the ENT clinic and bingo - they got it out in seconds with minimal discomfort and said - why didn't you come straight to us!!!! because no one told us to!!!! So my advice hospital ENT clinic, quick phone call ask if a nurse can see him urgently as it is causing distress and loss of indpendence and if they are really nice they will fit him in quickly between appointments - worth a try
     
  3. Quilty

    Quilty Registered User

    Aug 28, 2014
    1,051
    GLASGOW
    I buy hearing aids from China on ebay. The over the ear ones. Mum loses one every few weeks so saves a lot of money. Maybe try - search siemens hearing aids. They work as good as a £1000 one
     
  4. fizzie

    fizzie Registered User

    Jul 20, 2011
    2,731
    We had a bog standard nhs hearing aid and asked them to set it to a comfortable level and then remove all controls as her dementia progressed, she wore them to the end. All research leads back to the same place - they aren't worth paying for. Again beg for an appointment tell them it is affecting his independence and ask for anything - late cancellation or an outreach clinic, beg and beg if necessary. Just my experience x
     
  5. Amelie5a

    Amelie5a Registered User

    Nov 5, 2014
    91
    Scotland
    fizzy, Quilty, thank you for replying so quickly.

    Seeing Dad tonight, glued to a tennis match and following all the action, commenting accurately about the game - I have to try and get him 'connected' again. He still has enjoyment in life (though he won't remember this tennis match within minutes of it finishing) and so yea, if I need to beg to get him seen earlier, I should do it. The reports of a six month waiting list had filled me with despair where the NHS was concerned but you've spurred me on to batter on the doors.

    Interesting fizzie that the removal of your Mum's persistent wax had an immediate improvement - was that because they used micro suction, rather than syringing? A couple of the private clinics here offer that as an option.

    And Quilty, the over-the-ear option had struck me as possibly the best solution long-term - though I'd never have thought of buying it off e-bay!
     
  6. Quilty

    Quilty Registered User

    Aug 28, 2014
    1,051
    GLASGOW
    Cost about £40 which is cheap. Nhs clinic were horrible to mum. Gave her a telling off firvlosing hearing aids despite me explaining about dementia on the quiet. There attitude was "whats that got to do with it". Total ignorance.
     
  7. Sue J

    Sue J Registered User

    Dec 9, 2009
    8,035
    My friend can't get on with her aids at all and has bought herself many cheap ones over the years as they do get lost a lot. NHS were very good in that they didn't berate her for losing them but neither did they recommend any help to ensure she could adapt to them. I think it needs a lot of perseverance to adapt to wearing aids. We do have a local centre staffed by volunteers who give advice and assistance maybe you have something similar in your area, they are very helpful as they are all users that volunteer. TV ears for watching TV have been very good for my friend as she doesn't want to disturb neighbours and its like putting on a pair of glass which she can cope with. Li*l do a cheap aid for about £8
     
  8. Amelie5a

    Amelie5a Registered User

    Nov 5, 2014
    91
    Scotland
    I've been taking a look on eBay since reading your post - blimey, they are cheap. I can see why you do it, particularly when the aids can get lost/damaged so easily!

    It's got me thinking that once we know more about the whys wherefores etc of Dad's current hearing problem, that a trip to eBay might well be in order!
     
  9. Quilty

    Quilty Registered User

    Aug 28, 2014
    1,051
    GLASGOW
    Buy a battery tester from amazon. Saves a lot of stress!
     
  10. fizzie

    fizzie Registered User

    Jul 20, 2011
    2,731
    Do you know I can't remember - it was so quick that i thought it was just skill - i don't remember them using anything that made a noise and I know it was jammed tight. When you phone, tell them he is vulnerable and at risk of a fall because it is affecting his balance and therefore he is losing confidence and mobility - use the key words vulnerable and at risk and you are worried that he is at risk of having a serious fall if they can't get it sorted. I bed blocked my Ma in hospital until they sorted it out lol - strange how quickly they moved!!! They tried everything - they told me it was costing them £500 a day etc etc and I just said that they'd better hurry up then. Because the care was so poor they also got me staying all day moaning - they couldn't wait to get rid of us hahahahahahahaha
    oh yes quilty i'd forgotten yours - that is such a great idea.
     
  11. Amelie5a

    Amelie5a Registered User

    Nov 5, 2014
    91
    Scotland
    Ironic that! The reason I'm staying with Dad at the moment is that he's already done the serious fall bit, thanks to low haemoglobin or heart - that was before his ear got blocked! We've district nurses coming in several times a week to do dressings, so I've been quizzing them on the hearing front.
     
  12. Amelie5a

    Amelie5a Registered User

    Nov 5, 2014
    91
    Scotland
    One of the things that has kept dad's independence going until recently is an almost slavish adherence to routine - starting with getting up at 8, using an alarm clock.

    But that's where the impact of the hearing loss kicks in - he can't hear the alarm anymore, so from the start of the day his 'routine' is blown.

    So tonight is a first. We're trying a new alarm clock - one which vibrates the pillow (!), flashes light, and has a buzzer where the frequency can be adjusted. (Before he went to sleep tonight he decided that the lower frequency was the most audible)

    It'll be interesting to see if any of the three help him wake tomorrow morning. I really hope it does, as he's regained much of his pre-accident confidence and strength -but the loss of hearing is now having a greater impact on his day-to-day living than the nasty wound which is the legacy from the fall.
     
  13. blueboy

    blueboy Registered User

    Feb 21, 2015
    125
    Can I ask you Quilty which ones you buy please? I have just bought tiny hearing aids for Mum from Specsavers which cost £1700 but they are too fiddly and she won't wear them - also they are very difficult even for me to put in! Larger cheap ones would be perfect!
     
  14. fizzie

    fizzie Registered User

    Jul 20, 2011
    2,731
    I have heard sooooooooooooo many stories about useless private hearing aids. I used to work alongside audiologists both private and public sector and their professional opinion was always don't buy privately. The NHS ones are as good as any - the only thing that has made me feel any differently are Quilty's and i'm still not sure how you programme them to individualise them - i think you've told me Quilty and i've forgotten again!
     
  15. Amelie5a

    Amelie5a Registered User

    Nov 5, 2014
    91
    Scotland
    Just updating this thread....

    I spoke to one of Dad's GPs about my concern for how the hearing loss was affecting Dad's dementia and she came out to take a look. She said there was definitely wax still in the ear and as far as she was concerned she'd have no problem with re-syringing them. She agreed that the isolation caused by hearing loss wouldn't be ideal for anyone with dementia!

    But the nurses were reluctant because of the depth of the wax, I could tell - as I kept up the pressure.

    Today I was told they'd referred Dad to audiology.

    Frustrated by this, I contacted a private hearing firm who offer wax removal as one of their services. They couldn't have been more helpful. It transpired that their visiting ENT consultant (who only does one day every four weeks), and who does micro suction, was actually in their clinic today and they fitted us in.

    Miracles of miracles - Dad can now hear so much better! Of course, thanks to the dementia, he doesn't remember how bad his hearing was before, so he can't understand why we're all so happy!

    But inside, I'm fizzing. How tragic is it that people with dementia (and everyone else) may have to wait weeks, possibly months, for something which is so easily fixed? Fine, we paid a private fee (£70) for the service and I know not everyone can afford that, and nor should they have to! - but the toll of the isolation that hearing loss can cause is enormous. I don't understand why such things can't be fixed quickly for everyone who needs it. OK - wax buildup is only one cause of hearing loss, but it's something that can be sorted!

    I know that dad was 'zoning out' because of the hearing loss which was why i was so concerned about the impact on his dementia and, just in the few hours since his hearing has improved, he's been more 'involved'. The thought that he could have gone on for weeks more until an appointment came through, just feels me with horror.
     
  16. AlsoConfused

    AlsoConfused Registered User

    Sep 17, 2010
    1,953
    NHS audiology services are under pressure and under-resourced, it's true, BUT please don't discount them or the digital hearing aids they prescribe. Both the service and type of aid provided can be more flexible than might be apparent!
     
  17. Amelie5a

    Amelie5a Registered User

    Nov 5, 2014
    91
    Scotland
    Oh no- I'm not discounting them. It's the under-resourcing which leads to such long waiting lists which horrifies me. I've been told it's six months. If that's the case when an appointment comes through, we may well go back to the private clinic for a hearing assessment - a lot will depend too on how dad's hearing holds up. He most likely would benefit from a hearing aid, but before this latest wax build-up he was hearing OK-ish without any, so he may be resistant to the suggestion of hearing aids anyway!

    Someone who uses the NHS audiology service here spoke really highly of the service and the types of aids available - it's the length of time to access it which seems so wrong.
     
  18. fizzie

    fizzie Registered User

    Jul 20, 2011
    2,731
    You can phone them and take a last minute cancellation if they have one - some are really good about phoning or you can phone once or twice a week - cancellation almost always comes up particularly at this time of year
     
  19. Amble

    Amble Registered User

    Jun 5, 2007
    122
    Surrey UK
    Hearing Aids

    Try looking on the web site of the County in which you live. Surrey has one calle Surrey First Point
    http://firstpointcic.co.uk/home/
    They responded very speedily to the problems my husband was having with his NHS Hearing aids. They sent someone to visit him. Since then, the Drop In Audiology Clinic at the Hospital which gave him the hearing aids has been very helpful.
    We are in the fortunate position of being able to go there on the bus. There is also a Car Care Volunteer Scheme locally which will take people to and from appointments for simply a small donation.
     

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