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Hearing Loss Prevention

By Valerie Thelen, Staff Writer

(Page 1 of 3)

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 and children
  • turn head to one side, or cup an ear to hear better
  • respond often with a smile and nod, but no further comments
  • have difficulty with conversation while riding in  a vehicle
  • withdraw from group discussions and gatherings
  • not hear the phone or doorbell, and
  • have 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 in.

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 conditions.


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