ARTICLES / General /Hearing
Loss Prevention /
By Valerie Thelen, Staff Writer
Signs of Hearing Loss
Many loved ones will not tell their caregiver of an
onset of hearing loss, for fear of losing independence.
Instead, they become isolated, depressed, angry, lonely,
frustrated and even physically ill. Some telltale signs
are when a loved one withdraws from their normal social
activities, refuses to attend family and friend
gatherings, or doesn’t answer the phone anymore, saying
they were busy or unavailable. Any avoidance of
conversation is cause for concern.
The Minnesota Department of Human Services, Deaf and
Hard of Hearing Services Division, offers these
behaviors which may signal a struggle to hear properly.
A loved one may:
- have trouble distinguishing between words
that sound alike
- offer responses to questions that do not
make sense, have a hard time understanding women
- turn head to one side, or cup an ear to hear
- respond often with a smile and nod, but no
- have difficulty with conversation while
riding in a vehicle
- withdraw from group discussions and
hear the phone or doorbell, and
the volume on a TV or radio set extremely loud.
Some physical symptoms that may occur with hearing loss
include a ringing, roaring, hissing or buzzing in the
ear, also known as tinnitus; ear pain, itching or
irritation; fluid or pus leaking from the ear; and
vertigo. Caregivers can keep a watchful eye on their
loved one for these behaviors and physical symptoms.
If a caregiver suspects a hearing loss, it is important
to have it checked soon, in order to prevent problems
down the road. A loved one might resist, but this is
where the “caregiver persistence” and tough love come
The National Family Caregivers Alliance (NFCA) explains
how to handle some common objections a loved one may
raise to having their hearing checked.
The first common objection is that the “other people
simply aren’t talking loud enough.” In the ears of
a person with hearing loss, everyone is mumbling. A
caregiver can tell their loved one that it may be a
simple medical problem such as wax buildup and an exam
can rule out certain medical concerns and treat those