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Assisted Living for Deaf and Hearing Impaired

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Assisted Living for Deaf and Hearing Impaired SeniorsAs we grow older, it is natural that some of our bodily functions will start to break down. In seniors, it is common for vision, eyesight, and mobility to deteriorate over time. There is a big difference however from simple deterioration and true impairment. There are many treatments for ailing hearing such as hearing aids or even surgery in some cases. Some seniors will suffer true deafness either due to aging-related complications, medical conditions, or even through a genetic malady.

When you or your loved ones suffer from profound hearing loss, it can make communication difficult or almost impossible. For caregivers, taking care of a senior who is unable to hear directions or communicate their needs is also a challenge. Seniors who are considering moving into an assisted living facility that face challenges with their hearing may wonder what options are really available. We have put together a valuable guide that covers what you should expect from assisted living homes for the deaf and hearing impaired.

Assisted Living for Seniors – What is it?

Assisted living facilities are communities or homes where seniors are able to live their lives with help always on hand. The layout of these facilities is specially designed and is built in various sizes. The goal of assisted living is to help seniors by providing a lifestyle that is low maintenance, but still active enough for them to live traditionally. Most residents are very active and still take care of most of their own needs. Some residents may be wheelchair bound, while other residents may have Parkinson's, dementia or Alzheimer's disease. Assistance is customized to each person but predominantly consists of help with grooming, mobility, and other tasks.

Assisted Living for the Deaf - What You Need to Know

“Blindness separates people from things, but deafness separates them from other people." Helen Keller~

This profound statement brings light to the core issues that come with hearing loss and hearing disabilities. Seniors who are unable to communicate are not only unable to get their needs and points across easily, they are robbed of the ability to interact normally. The need to connect and communicate with others has a profound effect on a seniors' intellectual and social well being.

Assisted living homes for the deaf and hearing-impaired offer seniors with hearing disabilities the support they need to thrive. In addition to traditional assisted living amenities, many facilities will coordinate with local support groups and social clubs for the elderly for extra support.

When it comes to hearing loss, you should know that it is an entirely common occurrence. At least a quarter of seniors over the age of 65 have serious cases of hearing loss. As the age range passes 75, that number jumps to half of all seniors. With so many older people suffering from hearing loss, it is important that assisted living communities for the hearing impaired are readily available.

Seniors, Assisted Living and Hearing Impairment

Aging is a principal cause of hearing loss in seniors, though it can also be a result of disease, medications or injury. There is also a big difference between deaf and having a hearing impairment. Seniors who are deaf hear no sound at all or very little sound. Seniors that are hard of hearing or have a hearing impairment still are able to hear sounds, just not properly.

Some seniors identify and remedy their hearing problems with therapy or hearing aids. Though there is also a considerable number of seniors who deny that they have a condition. Assisted living facilities for the hearing impaired and the deaf not only need to recognize the signs of hearing loss, but also must counsel the resident accordingly.

As a person of any age, seniors who are losing their hearing may not be able to manage their emotions or process their disability on their own. It is common for older people to withdraw from social events, avoid personal interaction, and stay isolated to avoid confronting the truth.

Hearing loss can cause a senior to feel low self-esteem due to embarrassment. This can also lead to insecurity, self-doubt, confusion, and even irritation. While many seniors are able to accept failing vision and a need for glasses, it is much harder to accept a loss of hearing. When left untreated or poorly managed, hearing loss can lower the quality of life of a senior. Choosing an assisted living community that is able to properly care for and nurture seniors with hearing impairments is critical for their long-term health.

What is the Difference Between a Deaf Friendly Senior Living Community and a Traditional One?

Senior care that is deaf-friendly will help seniors who suffer from hearing impairment to have a high standard of living while residing in an assisted living facility. The services listed earlier in the article that describe what traditional assisted living entails are also provided in deaf-friendly locations. One of the most important differences is that assisted living for the deaf and hearing-impaired effectively address the needs of those with disabling hearing loss. Caregivers help to break the barriers that limit communication and help to prevent the frustration that often builds in seniors from not being understood.

How to Choose A Hearing Impaired & Deaf-Friendly Assisted Living Facility

The majority of assisted living homes are able to accommodate seniors with hearing impairments. Hearing loss is a natural part of the aging process, as such, caregivers are trained to expect at least some form of hearing trouble. Despite these expectations, there are some factors to keep in mind when looking for an assisted living facility that is hearing impaired friendly.

Take a tour of any location you are considering. Look for homes that offer audiovisual equipment, staff that are able to use sign language and that there are special visual alert systems in place for hearing impaired seniors.

While there may be specially trained staff on hand, it is important that there is a way for other caregivers to communicate with the seniors. Captioning calls and video are some options that may be available in some assisted living locations. Social events are important for seniors, not only do they help them to stay present, but they also combat loneliness. Ask about hearing-impaired friendly social events that may be available at the facility.

During your visit, watch how the staff interacts with other hearing-impaired residents. Do caregivers use slow movements, sign language, and gestures to communicate? Do the residents seem frustrated or do they seem happy with their surroundings? Ask the assisted living staff questions about how they handle seniors who are deaf or visually impaired and see how they respond. These clues will give you a good idea about how you or your hearing impaired loved one may fare in the community.

What to Look for in an Assisted Living Facility for the Hearing Impaired

As you seek an assisted living community for you or your loved one, it is critical to consider several factors. Any long-term care home that you choose should be staffed with kind and patient caregivers who enjoy working with seniors. Depending on the lifestyle of the resident, the size of the facility and location may also play a part in the final decision.

Seniors who have hearing impairments also should look for some specific amenities when researching new homes. A quality assisted living facility that is hearing impaired and deaf-friendly will offer some of the following things:

  • Medical Interpreters - Communicating with a deaf or hearing impaired senior can be a challenge, no matter what the situation may be. Trying to impart important medical information such as a diagnosis or treatment plan is even more critical. A medical interpreter will bridge the communication gap by relating the information in the way a senior is able to understand. This can be through sign language, gestures, written content, or even speaking in another language if required.
  • Specially Trained Staff - The caregivers should have special training that teaches them about deaf culture and the specific needs of seniors who suffer from hearing impairment. This will help them communicate more efficiently as well as become more respectful towards those with this disability.
  • Deaf & Hearing-Impaired Friendly Architecture - Assisted living communities that are formatted for those with hearing impairments will have special features. These may include light-up phones, lighted alarms, high strobe lights, and vibrating alerts in important areas.
  • Advanced Communication Aids - Most modern assisted living facilities for the deaf and hearing impaired will employ different forms of multimedia to enable communication. This can be as simple as video communication for communicating via captioning or sign as well as voiced text messages for their senior residents.

Hearing Impaired Assisted Living for Seniors & Average Costs of Care

If you or your loved one suffers from a hearing disability, you already understand just how difficult daily living can become. Many seniors accustomed to an active lifestyle can find those simple activities such as running errands, taking walks, or even driving much more difficult due to hearing loss.

Aside from daily tasks becoming more difficult, the world is also a much more dangerous place when one or more of the senses has become impaired. Many seniors will choose to move into an assisted living community to help mitigate the dangers associated with hearing loss. This not only is a worthwhile option, but one that offers a broader range of benefits aside from senior safety.

Many long-term residential care options exist for seniors who suffer from hearing loss, partial or complete deafness. The level of care provided depends on the type and location of the facility as well and any other medical concerns the senior may have. For assisted living for the hearing impaired, the cost can vary widely according to the state the senior lives in and the number of skilled caregivers employed at the location. Senior independent retirement communities for the deaf and hearing-impaired can average around $45,000 annually, while senior assisted living facilities for the deaf and hearing impaired will cost around $50,000 a year. There is also hospice care for the deaf which is covered by Medicaid & Medicare. Skilled nursing centers for the hearing impaired on the other hand are the most expensive, ranging close to $85,000 annually.

Paying for assisted living for seniors with hearing problems is generally the same as paying for those without special needs. In many cases, those who suffer from hearing impairment may qualify for subsidies and grants for which traditional senior residents won’t qualify.

Resources for Deaf & Hearing-Impaired Seniors

Assisted living homes tend to be naturally chaotic places, which can be hard for seniors with hearing problems. Most facilities house dozens if not hundreds of residents which translates to constant noise and distractions. 

The staff in assisted living homes can help seniors with hearing impairments by adjusting the atmosphere in the facility as well as through staff training. Noise levels can be lowered through creative internal decoration such as increased carpeting, matte wall surfaces and sound-absorbing tiles on the ceiling. These changes will make it easier for seniors that are hard of hearing to communicate more efficiently.

Caregivers who speak with seniors who suffer from hearing loss can also reduce background noise during their interactions. Lowering the fan, turning down radios and televisions, or closing the door while communication can also ease the strain of hearing loss.

It is very important for older people to understand and feel that they are being heard when they communicate in order to thrive. Seniors who are deaf or hard of hearing have the same rights to services and attention as those who don’t. The onus of responsibility is on the assisted living community to ensure that each resident gets the care and attention they deserve.

It is easy to get loaded down with information when looking for an assisted living community for a senior with hearing impairments. With the right research and our handy search tool, locating a quality home for your aging loved one is simple. Everyone deserves to live out their golden years with respect and dignity, and an assisted living facility is one way to secure the future of your loved ones. With the constant progression of technology, an increasing number of assisted living communities are upgrading their locations with deaf-specific communication modules. This is amazing news for families with hearing-impaired seniors who are in need of a quality long term assisted living home.

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