Helping and Empowering Long-Term Care Residents Who Have Hearing Loss

color photo of smiling woman with gray hair and glasses . She's looking up at a woman in medical scrubs. There is a blue ear hearing loss symbol in the left hand corn.

Nearly half of adults 75 and over have a hearing loss. If you work or volunteer in a long-term care setting, do you know how to best communicate with and help these seniors?

Hearing loss is perhaps the most overlooked disability. But hearing loss can harm communication with caregivers, staff, and volunteers in long-term care environments. More broadly, hearing loss also affects our health and well-being, increasing our risk of falls, cognitive decline, depression, anxiety, and isolation.

At a recent meeting for Washington State’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman program, HLAA-WA leaders Cheri Perazzoli and Diana Thompson shared how people in long-term care settings can empower and serve residents who are living with hearing loss.

Highlights of the presentation by Cheri and Diana included…

  • Recognizing the signs of hearing loss, such as difficulty hearing on the phone and withdrawal from conversation and activities
  • Learning communication techniques for people with hearing loss, such as getting the listener’s attention, facing them directly, and using a pen and paper
  • Using personal 1-to-1 assistive tech, such as PocketTalkers
  • Encouraging residents to see a hearing professional and to use their hearing aids regularly
  • Finding and using caption apps on a tablet or smartphone (Ava, Google Live Transcribe, and LiveCaption)
  • Helping residents get hearing-assistive telecommunications equipment, such as caption landline phones, often at no cost

The Washington State Long-Term Care Ombudsman program helps protect the rights of residents in long-term care and other senior living facilities. The program’s volunteers help resolve complaints and problems in areas such as quality of care, abuse, and other aspects of resident dignity.