Hearing aid and dementia, any advice?


I got a phone call from a hearing clinic that they had just fitted my mother with hearing aids and to pay $3600. I was shocked since I am her legal guardian, and the assisted living facility knows that only I can make decisions about her well being, and they know not to drive her to medical appointments without my approval. I told the hearing clinic no. I know my mother's hearing is poor but I also know it will be impossible for her to keep track of the aids. The nursing supervisor at the assisted living facility says I can arrange for a nurse to put them in in the morning and take them out at night, but I still don't think it will work, as my mother loses everything (she has lost at least 6 canes in the past year.) I don't think she will be able to change the batteries, or even recognize when the battery has died. I doubt she can hold on to the hearing aids more than a week or two. For what it's worth, my sister agrees with my decision but I am feeling very conflicted. Any advice?

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First, I would tell the hearing clinic that you are not paying any bills for unauthorized services. Sounds a little like AL may be getting paid for access to their patients.

Second, since the nursing supervisor has volunteered her staff to put in and take out hearing aids, I would recommend purchasing some "hearing amplifiers with digital noise canceling" (rechargeable is nice) for $50-200 per pair and see how that works out. There are made to be worn in either ear so when one is lost only one needs to be replaced.

There are also hearing amplifiers that work from a box like device worn around the neck with wired headphones. I know some seniors who prefer these over hearing aids because they can personally manage them.
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Reply to TNtechie

The hearing aids can and will be removed by Mother at any time. Who is going to check this hourly?
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Reply to OldSailor

I went through the exact same situation with my dad. He was in a nursing home and he needed the use of 2 hearing aids. Without them he couldn't hear at all and was treated as if he had dementia (he did get dementia but not until later as a result of hepatic encephalopathy). Keeping track of those hearing aids was my life's mission because, as you said, they are so darn expensive. In the beginning when my dad first went into the nursing home he had some difficulty keeping track of them but I visited everyday and if he wasn't wearing them I could usually find them in their case in a drawer or in a pants pocket. The staff at the nursing home was fairly diligent about helping my dad put them in and I always tried to commend the staff when my dad was wearing them. However, as he began to exhibit signs of dementia I worried that it was only a matter of time before those little things were lost forever. But they never did get lost--they went through the laundry instead and became useless. Although I would always check his pants pockets if he wasn't wearing them somehow they slipped by me. My dad's health was deteriorating quite rapidly and my brother and I discussed buying him new hearing aids but getting him to the hearing aid place and shelling out the money (none of us had the money) was unreasonable. We had to get down right into his ear to talk to him and then he'd say, "Why are you shouting???"

Had my dad's health been a little better I think we would have tried to replace the hearing aids. There's some charity, I don't remember which one now, that helps with expenses for hearing aids and we discussed researching this but when my dad began to go downhill the hearing aids weren't a priority anymore.

I think you're doing the right thing in not investing thousands of dollars for 2 tiny little hearing aids that, as you predict, will be lost within a week or two. I think they'll be lost too. But maybe if you can do some research on donated hearing aids.....I wish I could remember the name of the charity we found out about. I remember their hearing aids were from people who had died and my brother and I having a macabre sense of humor used to joke that when someone puts those donated hearing aids in their ear they hear spooky voices from beyond the grave from the person who last owned the hearing aids.
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Reply to Eyerishlass