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Senior Health

HEARING LOSS

Hearing Loss Article from Spokane Audiology

In terms of our ability to communicate with others, hearing is our most critical sense.

Even relatively mild hearing loss can seriously disrupt how we interact and connect with others. Without healthy hearing, the consequences for our social and mental health — and physical health, in some cases — become greater, and overall quality of life can plummet. Healthy hearing requires a number of processes in the inner ear and brain to work properly in order to correctly interpret the sounds you hear. Inner-ear problems, or ear problems in general, can prevent crucial pieces of sound information from reaching the brain, leading to confusion and an inability to understand what is being said. Commonly, an ear problem in the outer or middle ear is referred to as a conductive hearing loss, while inner-ear problems or brain-processing difficulties are referred to as sensorineural hearing loss. These are two distinct types of hearing loss with differing treatment methods.

 

Why Binaural Hearing Is Important

Binaural hearing refers to the brain’s ability to integrate information from both ears at once, which greatly improves overall communication and the ability to understand where sounds come from in relation to your body’s position. Hearing with both ears helps us to listen in noisy, complex environments and to hear speech sounds in noise.

It’s difficult to get by with only one healthy ear (unilateral hearing loss), particularly in educational settings. For example, children with unilateral hearing loss are far more likely to be forced to repeat a grade. Additionally, individuals with unilateral hearing loss find that speech comprehension suffers greatly, falling to only about 30 to 35 percent of what can be heard with two healthy ears.

 

The 3 Types of Hearing Loss

  • Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SHL): SHL is typically the result of damage to the delicate hair cells in the inner-ear organ (the cochlea) that are responsible for picking up sounds. When these hair cells — or the nerves they connect to — are damaged or destroyed by repeated exposure to loud noise, hearing becomes more difficult. Because hearing damage usually affects the highest frequencies first, loud-noise exposure can result in permanent high-frequency hearing loss.
  • Conductive Hearing Loss: This type of hearing loss is typically the result of an infection or blockage in the outer or middle ear. Otitis media (middle-ear infections) can sometimes cause difficulty hearing due to a fluid buildup. Swimmer’s ear or a buildup of earwax may create a blockage outside the eardrum. This type of hearing loss is typically reversible once the infection or blockage clears, or once necessary surgery is performed.
  • Mixed Hearing Loss: Individuals with mixed hearing loss typically suffer from some combination of SHL and a semipermanent conductive hearing loss, such as a malfunction of one of the ossicles (tiny bones that conduct sound) in the middle ear. Hearing may improve after the conductive portion of the hearing loss is resolved through treatment or surgery. SHL is usually permanent.

 

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

 

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

 

 

Conductive Hearing Loss

 

Conductive Hearing Loss

 

 

Mixed Hearing Loss

 

Mixed Hearing Loss

 

Other Forms of Hearing Loss

  • Unilateral Hearing Loss: Hearing loss that occurs in only one ear is referred to as unilateral hearing loss. This can be present at birth, may happen spontaneously, or can occur over the course of several days (referred to as sudden hearing loss). Unilateral hearing loss may delay or otherwise affect speech and language development, and children may have difficulty identifying where sounds are coming from (localization), hearing speech in noisy situations, and hearing from longer distances. Children who are born with unilateral hearing loss can achieve success academically, economically, and socially by focusing on communication development.
  • Sudden Hearing Loss: This is a sudden loss of hearing, either entirely or partially, within a 24-hour period — or immediately. Degrees of deafness vary, and while sudden hearing loss typically resolves itself within two weeks, it’s possible that hearing may never return. Treatment may include steroids to support the recovery of hearing, but patients who see no change within two weeks are unlikely to see improvement. Those who suffer from a sudden hearing loss should consult their physician immediately, as faster treatment greatly increases chances of a full recovery. About 85 percent of those who seek treatment will recover some of their hearing.
  • High-Frequency Hearing Loss: Those with high-frequency hearing loss can usually hear vowels just fine, but consonant sounds — like f, s, t, and z — become difficult to hear. High-frequency hearing loss is often difficult to diagnose, because it occurs slowly over several decades, like most forms of sensorineural hearing loss. Early signs are an inability to hear higher-octave sounds, like a bird chirping or the voice of a woman or small child. Difficulty conversing in groups or hearing speech in background noise also indicate the possibility of a high-frequency hearing loss. Using hearing protection prior to being exposed to loud noises will help prevent high-frequency hearing loss, while hearing aids are an effective treatment.

 

How Medicare Covers In-Home care

Jim T. Miller

Medicare covers a wide variety of intermittent in-home health care services (usually up to 28 hours per week) to beneficiaries if you meet their specific requirements. Here's how it works.

In order for you to secure coverage for home health care, Medicare first requires that you be homebound. This means that it must be extremely difficult for you to leave your home, and you need help from a device (like a wheelchair or walker) or a person in doing so.

You will then need your doctor to approve a "plan of care" confirming that you need skilled-nursing care or skilled-therapy services from a physical or speech therapist on a part-time basis. Your doctor can also request the services of an occupational therapist and a home health aide to assist with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing and using the bathroom. Your doctor must renew the "plan of care" once every 60 days.

You will also need to use a home health agency that is certified by Medicare.

If you meet all of the requirements, Medicare should pay for your in-home care.

But, be aware that Medicare will not pay for home health aide services (such as bathing, dressing or using the bathroom) alone if you do not need skilled-nursing or skilled-therapy services too. Homemaker services, such as shopping, meal preparation and cleaning are not covered, either.

You also need to know that Medicare has recently changed their home health care policy regarding degenerative diseases. They will now pay for in-home physical therapy, nursing care and other services to beneficiaries with chronic conditions like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's or Alzheimer's disease in order to maintain their condition and prevent deterioration. In the past, Medicare would only cover home health services if the patient were expected to make a full recovery.

When I toured the assisted living community with my parents, I cried into my complimentary soup. The sun was shining brightly in the atrium dining room, but I felt a darkness closing in as my parents told me, once again, that they weren’t ready. The elevators were slow, my dad complained. There were a lot of old people, my mom noted (without irony.)

“We’re fine,” he said. 

They weren’t fine. And I was exhausted from the tension of waiting for something bad to happen to them at home. Frustrated, too. They had devised incredibly narrow criteria for what they’d be willing to consider: it couldn’t be a one bedroom, had to be near their current home, and couldn’t be an assisted living facility that required them to have help (even though they were hardly independent.) As a bonus, several specific properties were excluded out of hand for obscure reasons. It was hard to find a match. Especially when I added my own criteria that it be closer, not further, from my own home. 

So when they refused the only place that matched their criteria, I broke down.

Balancing their needs and desires with what we could afford, and cross-referencing that with what was appropriate and available cost me lots of sleep and time. I hope sharing my lessons learned will help you in your moment of need!

Hard Truth About Moving Your Parents into Assisted Living #1: It’s Not Your Choice

Unless your parents are already fully financially and physically dependent on you to maintain their lifestyle, it’s their choice where they live. Your choices include if, when, and how to help. That’s a hard pill to swallow when you see them going down a path you wouldn’t choose for them. On the upside, accepting this can improve these sometimes difficult conversations with your parent(s).

Hard Truth About Moving Your Parents into Assisted Living #2: They May Not Have Enough Money

Senior living communities offer expensive services, and as a result, they cost a lot of money to live in. The median cost of a one bedroom apartment in an assisted living facility was $4,051 in 2019. That’s the national average; the average cost in your area may be much higher. And unless you have very few assets or have long-term care insurance, these costs will be out of pocket. Start by figuring out what’s financially possible and your options will narrow — in a good way. The choices can be overwhelming in some areas of the country. 

Hard Truth About Moving Your Parents into Assisted Living #3: It May Not Even Be an Option

After you figure out if they can afford it, you’ll need to find a place that offers what they need. In some cases, your parents may already need more care than an assisted living facility can provide. This could be the case if they need medical care like blood monitoring or injections for diabetes. Or if they need memory care and the community they choose does not offer it. There isn’t a national standard that defines what services an assisted living community offers, so try to be clear about what your parents need. Ask questions to verify what’s included in the monthly fee (and what’s not included, but available at additional cost.) 

Hard Truth About Moving Your Parents into Assisted Living #4: It May Take an Emergency

If your parents have been resistant to moving from their home, prepare for them to continue to be. They may not ever be ready. That leaves you to do research and understand the options ahead of time, in case a medical crisis or safety issues force a crisis. So while it’s not your choice now, it may be eventually. If your parents won’t talk or take action, it doesn’t hurt to think about what you would do if you could make the choice for them. This can help you feel more prepared in case you are one day forced to address their housing situation quickly and with minimal warning. 

Hard Truth About Moving Your Parents into Assisted Living #5: It May Not Be the Last Move

Moving can be stressful for anyone, let alone seniors moving late in life. It would be nice to think that after all you went through to get your parents moved that they could plan on being there indefinitely. You may get lucky like that. There’s also a strong possibility that as their needs change they will need to move again. That might be to a different unit in the same facility, to a skilled nursing facility, a memory care facility, or somewhere else entirely. My mom has moved twice since she moved out of our family home, and if her health declines there may be one more move in her future, to a skilled nursing home. Try not to stress about this. It’s just something to keep in the back of your mind. Hope for the best, and plan for the worst.

Health Reminders for Senior

Health Reminders for Seniors

by Adult Family Home Solutions LLC

As people grow older, the care for them increases. We pay more attention to our parents' health like we never did. Their old age makes them feeble and weak. Their senses loosen up, their organs age, their power to heal slackens. An older person's health is as vital as any baby's. Like babies, older individuals should be looked after diligently. Proper care and attentiveness to their health can turn into longevity.

A healthy population is crucial for any country. It becomes more important here in the US, as 13% of the population is above 65 years. Therefore, we should teach healthy habits to our older citizens. A healthy and active community helps a country achieve not only its economic goals but also social goals as well.

On an individual level, we should strive to improve the quality of life of our senior citizens. They cannot necessarily do it themselves; they need our help in it. This is how we can help them:

Increase Activity

Old age weakens the will to be active all the time. An individual's speed of doing any work decreases in comparison to what it once had been. Their muscle strength reduces significantly and it becomes stricter day by day to be active. But older individuals can overturn this by systemic physical exercises. Physical exercise will be beneficial for muscle strength and would increase activity. Strolling daily in the morning or evening can work wonders, and the body can immediately sense its effects.

Habits

One has to gulp the fact that they are not the same person that they used to be. With old age, bodies don't cope up with our everyday habits. We don't get along with the usual routine with which we related so smoothly. Our bad habits, which did lesser harm to us as a younger person, do us more harm than ever. If we didn't let go of our bad habits as a youngster, old age is an excellent time, to begin with. We have to accept those smoking cigarettes and consuming liquor won't do us any good. We have to change our habits for our bodies have changed. One has to pay more attention to their lifestyle as they age. Our daily habits need a significant change.

Metabolism

It's no surprise for an older individual to hear from his loved ones what to eat and what not to eat. As we age, our metabolism decreases. We cannot eat anything and everything. Not everything that we eat moves along as swiftly as it once used to be. If we eat carelessly, our bodies take the damage to it. If we eat more then inevitably, it will result in high weight. It gets difficult for our bodies to burn calories. The metabolic rate decreases significantly; hence we cannot eat anything and everything. As an older person, one must abide by healthy eating habits. Physical exercises can help in losing fat and increase muscle strength.

Stress

With age increases an individual's responsibilities. One thinks after working all his life tirelessly, they should get rest in old age, but that never happens. Pressure doesn't go away from the mind effortlessly. The aging process quickens its pace with a stressful mind. Nothing harms your mind more than your stress. It increases blood pressure and affects the heart and various organs. Therefore, an older person should strive to lessen his stress. To reduce stress one must perform breathing exercises like meditation. Yoga exercises have found to be beneficial curbing stress. One should also be more social and available in his old age as self-confinement only increases it.

Balanced weight

The reduction of the body's metabolism increases body weight. Increased weight makes you prone to getting heart diseases, high blood pressure and diabetes. Therefore, one must keep a balanced bodyweight to avoid these fatal diseases. One should always not increase weight more than what the healthy BMI dictates. Regular exercises also help in regulating increased body weight. Obesity is the leading factor for heart-related diseases. It makes the body movement sluggish and an obese person is more probable to get tired quickly than healthy individuals. We can remind our loved ones of the benefits of a healthy diet. Intake of fried food is harmful as they are indigestible in old age. A healthy diet should include veggies and oil-free food. It is also essential for the body to be hydrated. A right amount of water for the body goes a very long way.

Timely checkups

As our younger self, we didn't spend much time in hospitals as we'd be spending as an older one. Older bodies are more probable to get infected by germs. Immunity gets reduced, and our antibodies are no more capable of fighting germs as they once did. Therefore, this situation is avoidable by timely body checkups. These body checkups help an individual to keep track of his health which one must do when attaining old age. Dental checkups are essential as teeth also get deteriorated with old age. Eyes should be taken care of more than ever as with the old age power of vision lessens. Women can get checked for breast cancer and men for prostate cancer as old ages are the most probable days of getting it. The risk of a fatal heart attack reduces if the body's blood pressure gets checked regularly. Bone density scans can help in finding signs of osteoporosis.

Supplements

As our bodies cannot produce vitamins and minerals as swiftly as it once did, we can opt for consuming it from external sources like tablets. To avoid osteoporosis and osteomalacia, one can consume Calcium tablets. Multi-Vitamin pills supplement the body with potassium and vital vitamins. Fortified milk and yogurt can also boost calcium in the body. Meat, cereals, and seafood can supplement vitamin B12 which is responsible for healthy red blood cells. Omega-3 fatty acids can decrease the risk of heart-related diseases. Vitamin D which helps the body absorb calcium and maintain bone density, is present in leafy vegetables and seafood.

Sleep

Resting the body as old age takes a significant toll because of physical activity. A good nap is always beneficial for the human body. During our sleep body muscles relax, and breathing slows. Our blood pressure which is the driver of hypertension in older individuals decreases during our sleep. Therefore, individuals with high blood pressure should get the right amount of sleep. Insomnia is pretty common in older individuals. It can be treated by handling stress, anxiety and acquiring a healthy lifestyle. For example, coffee, heavy meals and alcoholic drinks if avoided can lead to good night sleep. Room conditions also play a huge role. It becomes challenging to get a good nap if the room is too bright or if its temperature isn't suitable.

Adult Family Homes

Maybe its time for us to understand that old age is no different from childhood. Just like children, older people cannot do everything by themselves. For their everyday task, they require our help. Older individuals need feeding, medication and regular exercises with grave punctuality. Such care needs a significant amount of time from our daily schedule. Adult family homes can help with diluting our burden. They provide the care and love that an individual gets at home. They lessen our worries by their affection towards our parents. Therefore, shifting our loved ones to one such family home is beneficial for not only them but for us too. You can easily find  adult family homes near you on our website. Just enter your zip code and choose the best adult family home of your choice.

Medication

Older individuals need to take medicines prescribed by their doctors routinely. Failure to do so can be fatal. The medication that is prescribed by the doctor should be given. There is a good chance that the person receiving care from us is taking some prescribed medication. We should ensure that they are getting the right medications. Also with medication comes a huge risk to the body. An increased amount of medication can be harmful to vital organs as an old body cannot cope up with an eroded metabolism. Family members need to take the responsibility of making their parents take medicine regularly. Individuals living in adult family homes get proper medication at the right time. The individuals get a planned medical report and they get the nursing accordingly.