Peggy Posted June 2008

Aging parents that are deaf

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Both of my parents are deaf and both are dealing with dementis. They are in a nursing home that has some nurses that know sign language and the place is funded by the Deaf Alumni. Since I have to have them in a special nursing home I cannot have them living near me. They live about 45 miles away and about an hours drive. They use to be in a nursing home where no one knew how to communicate with them and I had them moved. I get a call daily that they found them on the floor and then my dad fell and cut his head and wanted to know if I wanted them to take him to the hospital.. now they are going to put him in a ambulance without anyone to communciate with him and then hopefully the hospital will be able to get an interpreter. I am not happy about that and the nurse stated that they could watch his vitals and then see if he really needed to go to the hospital. Does anyone else out there get daily calls from the nursing home? The calls are really stressing me out because I am not sure what to do with this information?

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SWNY Jun 2008
I am currently a service provider who works with Mentally Ill Deaf People and at a second job, am the Program Social Worker for an adult day care program.

Although I have no experience in working with Deaf adults with Dementia, I am interested in hearing more about your journey.

My suggestion to you is to remind the nursing home that they are REQUIRED by the ADA to program ASL interpreters. If they give you a hard time, report them not only to the ADA board but to the NAD.
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Peggy Jun 2008
For several years I have contacted OAD and NAD and they do not know or have anything to help with an aging deaf person with Dementia. I am sure that I am not the only person who parents are deaf and dealing with this. They have places for hearing people with dementia but not for deaf. Sure they could teach their staff ASL, but deaf people need to be around other deaf people too. I would like to start something for deaf people but not sure where to start. Also it pretty much sucks that there is really only one place within about a 150 miles radius a nursing home that is able to provide an atmosphere for deaf people. As for hearing they have many choices but for the deaf there is only one place. So you are pretty much at their mercy and if you do not like the conditions, well where else are you going to be able to take them. I firmly believe that the OAD and NAD need to get on the ball and start looking into and developing more places for the aging deaf people.
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Lindy Jul 2008
I am also struggling with a parent who is Deaf with dementia. He is currently in a nursing home where there are other Deaf residents, but none of them have dementia. Now Dad's dementia has progressed to the point where they believe he also has psychosis. He has had sudden agressive and violent outbursts. He has just returned from a stay at the local hospital's mental health ward where they have put him on medication that will hopefully control the agressive behavior. However I do believe the nursing home staff is extremely wary of him now and of course Dad can sense that. If he does not do well now the next step is to put him in a mental health hospital and it is unlikely there will be any staff that know sign language. Unless we can do some staff education on deaf culture at the nursing home, I believe the next step for Dad will be even more damaging.
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SWNY Jul 2008
To be perfectly honest, although I work with both the Deaf popluation and the Dementia population, I never really stopped to think about Deaf Seniors with Dementia.

As we have so little Deaf services to begin with, i cannot imagine Deaf with Dementia. Please, keep in touch with me and educate me of your journey.
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SWNY Jul 2008
I should also point out that I work with the two populations seperately.
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Peggy Jul 2008
Lindy - My father does get angry but it is called sundowners. Maybe you can see if your dad has the same thing. I do not know if you live in Ohio but the Columbus Colony Elderly Care and they are good with dealing with the deaf. The nurses and a lot of the staff know sign language. Like everyone else I do not like to have my parents in a nursing home but I do not have a choice.
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momsbonnie May 2011
I'm not sure if my mother has dementia or not but I have the problem of her stating she is "feeling the vibrations of music" that wakes her. I believe she is actually feeling something but this has only been happening in the past year & 2 different neighbors. She wears a hearing aid in one ear, anyone know if this could be related?
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Carol72156 May 2011
I, also, have a parent who is deaf with some dementia and the last time Mom was in assisted living it was a disaster. I realize the nursing staff isn't paid to terrorize the patient who has the most infirmities but you couldn't have convinced me of that last month. You would expect that when a parent needs to spend time in assisted living that the family caregiver would not have to devote quite as much time to their loved one's care. In this case, I was on the phone and meeting in person with the staff on a regular basis. I feel as though we had a very serious communication issue and that proper training wasn't provided to the staff. Her medicare coverage was cut short because she was thought to be non-compliant. Medication dosages were incorrect or medication was not given at all. I could give more examples but basically I "do" want to just give affirmation that it's a problem that definitely exists and needs to be addressed ... not all people who are deaf have family to keep up with the inadequacies of these facilities. Fortunately Mom is now home and we have a private caregiver 30 hours per week that's extremely conscientious with Mom's care.
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vstefans May 2011
They may simply be obligated to call about every fall or skin mark and you can collect as much information as possible and decide if it sounds serious enough to go to hospital. Try to communicate with someone about the calls and make sure they are not expecting you to do anything more than that. You can ask for what you do and do not want called for, you can't absolutely count on 100% compliance though. And - falling daily is not good - shouldn't they be doing something to prevent that?
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kvetch99 Jul 2011
My father lives at home with me and my family. He is profoundly deaf and widowed. His dementia has rapidly progressed and although he is generally pleasant to us, his care has become draining. He will really only respond positively in terms of doing necessary things with me. When I am gone he either sleeps or asks for me, waiting for my return. Rare hospital visits have resulted in midnight phone calls because he becomes so terrified and confused. As of now, due to his refusal to communicate with "outsiders" I am locked into a caretaker position that has superseded all other aspects of my life. I just don't know what to do. Regular home health agencies do not have appropriate care givers that can deal with both the deafness and the dementia. Anyone out there with a similar situation? Any input would be gratefully accepted.
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