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My mother is 94, completely deaf, and has mild dementia. She doesn't talk so much as she has a very loud high-pitched screech. As she ages and the dementia progresses, I am unable to orient her to lower her voice. Due to her age and overall health condition, we have decided not to have any more surgeries and unnecessary interventions. I live with her in her home 24/7/365. We have nurse aides who come in 5 days a week to help me with her bathing. laundry, and other household chores and to give me some "down" time for shopping and my own personal activities. She isn't too hard to care for so I don't think she is ready to go to a nursing facility at this point in her life. The problem isn't HER problems, as it is MY problem dealing with her.

My big problem is that she "talks" too loud, or rather I should say, she "screeches" too loud. The other day I was bending down to put on her leg brace and she screeched directly into my left ear," I love you so much, and I don't know how I would manage without you." It was a very nice message but I was left reeling with ear pain and a near migraine headache for the rest of the day. I am beginning to suffer from tinnitus and hyper-acoustic bouts that total silence drive me crazy and I can't sleep with out some white noise.

I feel that if this situation continues, she will make me deaf. I have tried ear plugs but they seem to dampen down all noises. I still need to hear noises in the house. (She has left the water running in the bathroom with a wash cloth in the sink and I didn't hear it until I noticed the flood.) I need to be able to communicate with her and I also want to be able to live a reasonably normal life.

I went to the local electronic store to see if there was a device to dampen down her high pitched screechy voice and yet allow me to listen to the TV and the other noises about the house. All the devises that they had seemed to have were to help the hard of hearing to hear better. There are noise cancelling headphones, but they are so expensive that I'm hesitant to purchase them without a discussion about their pros and cons and to see if they are what I need.

Surely, I'm not the only person who has to live with this problem. What do you do keep your hearing and your sanity intact? Are there products out there that can filter out certain pitches and decibels without wiping out all sounds.

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Yes, it's frustrating to the non-hearing impaired people when the ones that need it refuse to wear their aides. To me, it's like putting on a body part!
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I wish there were a better way to communicate - I have asked my husband to repeat what he heard to male sure I got the essence across because even the simplest of things gets lost in translation and muddled. One of the worse things with his hearing loss is that it is not possible to always talk loudly or yell without it in some way coming across as irritating if not angry to the listener. I can't whisper something sweet to him. I can't whisper at all to him. Even right next to his ear talking at a reasonable level he can't hear. He used to love music and going to the movies and that is all lost to him. And when he listens he really concentrates to hear what is being said so his facial expression is somewhat blank as he is trying to figure the words out. One can't tell from his expressions if he got it. He does try hard and I know it's very hard on him. When I try to communicate about something for the 3rd or 4th time it's frustrating for both of us. His hearing does not tell him generally that I am talking loud or yelling. It's just so much noise he can't interpret at times. I can well visualize making up flash cards for basic phrases. Other people don't always see his difficulty. We have been at family events where even though we told people he had problems - well they would call to him and he did not hear them - later they had felt slighted or ignored. He seems to hear, he will nod his head and listen yet often does not hear. I will have to brief him later about what was really said. When we were at the S.S. office he could not hear the queue number announced. On the tv front he will be watching something I don't care to watch, especially one of those "dumbiest" shows, I have tried just sitting there working on my projects and it's just too loud. So I usually watch in another room. I don't like how his hearing separates us at times. Because of some very low blood sugars I am thinking about getting a small air horn to signal I have an emergency and need his help. I know he does try yet there is just so much he can do. If the disease had hit him at earlier age then we could have taken some signing classes yet neither one of us now has the memory ability we had then. I have not seen any classes in our area for people our age who are just trying to make things easier. We are not trying to be fluent in ASL by any means. Like so many things I have read in the posts - maybe in our 30's or even 40's we should be taught some skills for the aging & health problems that may come later. Why doesn't health management have something like that. How to handle loss of speech or sight, loss of mobility, fractured memory etc. - so that whether it's us or someone we are around we understand the problem from both sides. I think it's always best to try to understand it from the view of the one needing help ... we may be that person someday. I really wish I could help my husband in some way to regain what he has lost. I know if I spent a day with baffles over my ears, unable to hear and guessing what others were saying and doing I would be lost as well.
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I know I didn't start this post, but I appreciate the comments directed towards me. Hubby's increasing deafness is becoming a real problem yet he does not see it as such. The kids won't leave him alone with the g-kids because he simply does not hear them. They've all spoken to him, he is so darn stubborn, he insists that nothing can be done for him. One thing I now INSIST upon...Closed Caption is ON for any and all TV we watch together. It would take us 3 hrs to watch a 90 minute movie b/c he was CONSTANTLY saying "what was that? what did they say?" and backing up the movie. He also recently has MISSED flights as he cannot hear the overhead announcements and simply missed boarding a plane. One would think these things would scream to him that he's missing out---but a more stubborn man does not exist. Last time he had his hearing checked was at least 25 years ago, I have to think there is something better than hearing aids made in the 80's. He does not care what I think or say, I don't know what to do. (His mother is deaf also and he hates going to visit her b/c she also won't wear her aids and I guess they just sit and scream at each other.)
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AanywhO.... it hurt to read your post... what a saint you are. Your husband needs to get with the program and make more of an effort to listen to you. He is selfishly going the way of the man who never hears a female voice. I am biting my tongue to keep from saying more.... You have to shout over the TV? Oh my.... I'm biting my tongue again... there has to be way he can be made to pay attention to you who is doing SO MUCH for him. Hold on.... I think my tongue is bleeding.
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I don't know an answer, just have much sympathy for you. My husband has Meniere's and even with two hearing aids (very good ones) he is mainly deaf and everything on my end is yelling to communicate anything. He can't hear most things and I found I can't watch T.V. in the same room as it's just too loud. Not all shows come with closed captioning. Sometimes we will be out in public and either I can't really talk loud enough for him to hear me because it's a comment or question not everyone around us needs to know OR he tends to talk really loud and it's not an appropriate situation/environment to that in. And like in other's posts I find I am talking too loud to others. If the t.v. is on and I need to tell him something he does not understand that I have to talk over the t.v. to begin to have him me .... the same when I am on the phone. He thinks the t.v.'s loud sound does not bother him. Yet if I don't almost yell over the t.v. he can't hear me. I am slowly getting him to realize that he needs to mute the t.v. when we talk.
I have been looking for one of those children's drawing pads that are made of a base and an overlay so that I can write something basic down and it can be read and then "erased" by lifting the overlay, this really dates me!. I know it seems to be extremely basic yet he is not into computers, does not email etc. - so a handheld device would be overkill and a waste to him. The drawing pad would be portable, inexpensive, and easy to use. It's just so difficult to verbally make myself clear. He tries to make sense out of what he hears yet misses most of what he is told. He ends up confused and frustrated because he can't rely on what he believes he has heard. I tend to always be aware of conversations he has with others so that I can correct anything that may need it. With his hearing problem I have to hear the phone ring, the knock on the door, the timer or warning alert going off, or the outside water hose that has not been turned off and is flooding the yard, listen for car engine noises - so many things. It's a constant problem. I found that there is nothing on the market in the way of home security systems or smoke alarms for those with hearing impairment. Whether he is awake or asleep he simply does not hear them. Have you ever thought about using a baby monitor for when you can't be in the same room? You could likely adjust the sound level. For home safety - do they make a small floatation device with an alarm that could be placed in bathtub or sink - somewhat like the alarms that put in swimming pools? Or in the baby department they may have a cap that fits over the tap knob so that the water could not be turned on.
I don't know if this is any help for you ... maybe a flash card with "Mom talk softer, I can hear you" would get the point across. It may be because she can't hear now she also just can't know she needs to modify her voice and how to do that ... if she could understand the flash card maybe you could practice with her and find a comfortable voice range for both you and her. Find that range and practice using it. Give her a big hug every time she gets it right. With her dementia it would seem best to keep everything simple. Good Luck!
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Hearing aides make you look old? Guess he'll hobble along when he says no to a walker, too!
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Midkid: I was similar to your husband with one big difference. I had tympanomastoidectomy surgery.
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Midkid: What a humorous and yet on point answer!
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Midkid58: I cannot think of one time where I have heard a better answer. It is hilariously truthful and honest, and it shows me where I have enabled another person in my life way too much as well. Excellent...
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Midkid58 I wear a hearing aid (since my 40's) and will not yell to be heard if the other person refuses to get help. Do you read to people who refuse to wear glasses? Do you chew their food if they won't see the dentist? Carry them if they won't use a walker? Speak once to your husband - if he can't hear you, have him come to you so you can speak directly into his ear. As long as you enable his behavior, he won't change. I know because I'm going thru the same thing w both husband and his father. One can't hear, other won't use the walker. Good luck!
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It is typical of anyone with a hearing deficit to talk louder. I myself wear one aide, but I have to remind myself to talk softer.
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Don't laugh: with skittish horses at horse shows, we put big cotton balls in their ears (yes, for real) so that they won't shy or do something stupid. It works!!!!!!!!!!!!

They still hear but dampened.

Let me say that I get this. My mom also talks very loud and in the worst places and the worst times. I have cringed in restaurants more times than I care to remember. When she had a phone we had to hold the receiver a foot away from our ears.

Hang in there and use cotton balls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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The things we encounter while giving love and care never cease to amaze me...I think I am the once screeching! My sweet hubby has lost 80% hearing in one ear (due to an infection he didn't treat MANY yeasr ago) and now he's losing the hearing in his "good ear". He's only 63 and in good health. I did not realize that I have adapted to "screaming" to get him to hear me, until one of the kids said "Sheesh, mom, why are you yelling at me?"....and I realized I'm adapting to dad's increasing deafness. He wears headphones all the time so he can hear TV and music---I wear earplugs so I can sleep without his snoring keeping me up. (He has flat out refused to get hearing aids..says that they make him look old....(sigh)....
I'd keep trying the earplugs. I have excellent hearing and even through some of the "softer" ones, I can hear water running, a car starting up...and the snoring. At least you mom is "screeching" sweet and loving things!!! Is she aware she's really loud, or at the point she doesn't care/understand? I think the advice to handle it with love and humor are going to be best..and do keep trying earplugs. Some are for "total blackout" of sounds, many just muffle it. You're an angel!! Sound cancelling headphones do indeed cancel all sound. Hubby wears them and that's another whole dynamic I don't want to deal with.
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I have what I have recently disovered to be a "condition" called Misophonia. I am not one to take such labels on easily and everything that comes with it... however... I have been plagued with an unnatural dislike or repulsion for certain sounds that make me wonder if I'm normal. All that to say.... as a side note.... see if this applies to you.

misophonia website

Otherwise... I love HomewithDad's perspective of taking on a humoresque approach on how to deal with mom's loud noises. She will surely respond much better to a lighthearted approach than to a more "This is a serious problem" approach. You are coming across as very loving and wanting to be tolerant of your mom's screeching... so I'm sure she picks up on that... that you care...

In times of severe irritation, I have been known to use ear plugs and/or using an MP3 with wired-earphones to ease the sound I am having to deal with. Or I will turn on the radio/CD player when eating meals with my husband, and he knows why I do. He's come to accept this quirky thing of mine. I do love the making-cards and facial expressions and body language ideas for communicating to your mom how loud she comes across.

I'm so glad you spoke up and asked about this. Everything is relevant - especially things that can make caregiving even more difficult.

God's blessings to you as you seek Him for help...
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Get some inexpensive foam ear plugs that allow some protection. You will not have to endure this forever, so just be patient and love her for the time she has left.
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My dad's Parkinsons caused his voice to become a whispery rasp like the godfather. Just a few sessions with a speech therapist and he was greatly improved. They have great methods to help! I suggest you stay with her during speech therapy so you can remind her and review when she forgets. We wrote the simple instructions on a big poster board where dad can see it. It really improved his quality of life and the way other people respond to him when he speaks nicely. Good luck.
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My counselor told me our throats close up as we age which makes voices more raspy and irritating. A little wine helps my Mom's throat open up and makes her voice less screechy.

Asking her to lower her voice, you might try humor. Put your hands over your ears and demonstrate dramatically how horrible the hurt is. Might try writing in large letters on a posterboard, "Love you Mom, Please be a 'caregiver whisperer'!

Or write out AAAAGGGHHHHH on a card and show it to her every time she screeches. I just put my index finger up to my lips with a pained expression on my face when my Mom talks too loud. She is very hard of hearing so she is not aware of the effect of her loud voices. I also try to smile at her and show love with my expressions. Everyone needs love, and I think my Mom talks to me a lot just asking for love, affection and affirmation. I hug and kiss her now more than I used to.

In the meantime, yes, this is one of the hardest jobs on the planet but I am sure if you keep experimenting you will find some relief.
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Try a cheap over the counter hearing aid for your mom, if it helps her hear herself, invest in a more expensive model that can be cranked up.
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I wouldn't wear headphones if you are prone to migraines as the pressure band across the top of the head may make things worse, ear plugs are a better solution but you will still be able to hear. also try visual clues to your mom such as an index finger to the lips and a hand gesture indicating lowering the volume, making sure to have her focus on your instruction by a touching que. it can't hurt to try. good luck!
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I remember when the kids were small and the constant noise got overwhelming I would wear ear plugs. I know you said you have tried that but perhaps try a few different kinds, something that will muffle sounds without totally blocking them. And you only need to wear them when she is most active and things are at their worst, she's not chatting constantly I hope?
Your problems with tinnitus etc make me think that you should visit an audiologist for yourself, perhaps you have issues that could be treated. I do know that working in a loud environment causes stress and can increase blood pressure, I hope you can find a solution!
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WEll, first I offer my kudos to you for 24/7/365. No matter how much we love someone, caregiving is perhaps the world's toughest job. You mentioned ear plugs and it got me to thinking...I wear them when I ride my motorcycle. I have experimented with different brands available at Walmart. There are a couple of brands that let in more sound but still reduce sharp, piercing sounds. One brand in particular stands out in my mind. The container in which they are sold says they are good for use when travelling on planes. I tried them and could still hear a lot but the worst of the sound was dampened/muffled.

I am also wondering if you could get yourself a headset with "earmuffs" to listen to music or the radio.

I empathize with you.

Grace + peace,

Bob
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Maybe if you got her a hearing device she could hear herself? Put on good quality stereo headphones and then talk to someone- we are hard wired to hear our voice- they will tell you to stop yelling! You were in the right isle.
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