National Better Hearing and Speech Month has been around since 1927, and each year the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association promotes the month of May as a time to encourage people to be screened for hearing loss, as well to promote ways to assist in the cost of hearing tests and hearing aids.
For our aging population, the threat of hearing loss is rather common. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, 30% of adults between 65-74 years old and 47% of adults 75 years or older have a hearing impairment. With so many of our older adults experiencing hearing loss, this month is significant in promoting a better quality of life for our seniors.
Improving the lives of our older adults by addressing their hearing impairment problems is crucial, but really listening to our aging loved ones is essential in helping them feel comfortable and important. Many times we find that the seniors in our lives repeat stories, or seem to be confused in their communication. When we listen to their thoughts, concerns and comments, though, we let them know that we care about what they say and think. Our older population has lived quite the history, and many have stories that illustrate not just how they lived their lives in the 1930s, ‘40s or ‘50s, but really how our entire society lived. Making our loved ones feel heard and understood shows how important their past is to our present, and creating this interaction truly leads to better thoughtful and compassionate care for our seniors.
Next time you see or visit an older loved one, don’t hesitate to sit, listen and let them direct the conversation. They will appreciate the attention you are paying them, and you never know — you might just learn something new.