New York Times writer Jane Brody recently penned two excellent columns on the value of hearing aids and the obstacles to obtaining them. (The links to these articles are below.) The articles led me to reflect on my experience with hearing aids as a psychologist in long-term care. I’ve noticed additional obstacles to hearing aid use:
- The aids are in the dresser drawer rather than the ears of the residents who need them.
- The hearing device is locked in the nursing cart or closet.
- The batteries are no longer functioning and there are no backup batteries.
Here are some suggestions to remedy these challenges:
- Nurses, aides, ombudsmen, readers: Please consider putting in hearing aids as essential a part of getting ready for the day as putting on a shirt.
- Establish a convenient location for all assistive devices so that eyeglasses, hearing aids, and dentures are easy to find and store. A special caddy for a dresser drawer would be very helpful in keeping track of these important items.
- Keep backup batteries available so that dead batteries don’t mean several weeks of isolation. Sell batteries on an Independence Cart, or traveling store.
As Jane Brody points out in her articles, losing the ability to hear can lead to social isolation, cognitive impairment, excessive fatigue and other maladies. Let’s do what we can to keep our residents at their best.