She can't afford hearing aids. She can't hear full conversations and is filling in the gaps herself which is causing arguments because she is thinks something completely different is being said than what actually is. We have to completely yell in order for her to hear us along with repeating ourselves multiple times. She throws temper tantrums because she thinks we said something we never did and then when we try to correct her on what we actually said she says she knows what she heard and gets even more mad. This constant battle is exhausting. She slams doors, cusses at us, argues and plays the martyr by saying she's sorry she is such a bother to us in a very rude manner. Mom is a difficult person to begin with but this is starting to take its tole on all of us. What can we do.

So, my mother is almost 94 and pretty much deaf. For those who are saying things like "please don't be angry with her", they just don't get it. At all. Trying to communicate with a person who can't hear is THE most frustrating thing on earth, and when they refuse hearing aides, it takes the frustration factor up 10 notches. In this case, your mother can't afford hearing aides. Let's say she gets them for free; then there's a ton of other aggravations to consider: losing them and refusing to put them in are just two of dozens of possibilities for things that tend to go wrong with hearing aides. They are not a magic wand.

It sounds to me like your mother suffers from dementia. I say that because you're stating that she's throwing temper tantrums and refuses to believe you when you correct what she misheard. Unless you all have a history of a bad relationship with one another, why is she unwilling to listen to reason? Once dementia kicks in, there IS no reasoning with a person, whether they can hear you or not. Trust me, I mother has dementia AND she can't hear, making for a truly untenable situation. Even when she CAN hear me, she argues that I'm wrong. I brought her 3 bags of toiletries 2 weeks ago. Yesterday she tells me I brought her 'nothing' and she has 'nothing' and needs all sorts of things but can't remember what. She also needs new bras b/c all of her old ones have twisted hooks. She's gone through no less than 20 bras in the past 2 years alone, and there's nothing wrong with the bunch she has; truth is, she has stopped asking for help in getting dressed/undressed and can't manage putting on/taking off the bras herself. She lives in a local Memory Care ALF.

So my suggestion to you is to look into getting mom evaluated for dementia, first off. If she can't score well on the MOCA or SLUMs test, at least you know WHY she's acting this way in addition to not being able to hear.

Then take her to an ENT doctor to remove wax from her ear(s) as others have mentioned. When I took my mother to the ENT, he removed a gob of wax the size of a grape. Honestly. From then on, she was able to hear quite a bit better until age caught up with her and the hearing again diminished.

Get a large dry erase board that you can write on, for obvious reasons.

Sit close to your mother and speak in LOW tones; the hard of hearing cannot hear high pitched WOMEN'S voices especially; if you drop your tone to a man's level, she will likely hear you a bit better. Enunciate each word using your mouth to form the words so she can also lip read.

Try not to yell although the urge to do so is HUGE. Every time I raise my voice at my mother in an effort to be heard, she accuses me of yelling and says she can hear me just fine, in spite of saying WHAT? over and over and over again. See where I'm going with this? We lose. Either way. Accept that fact and do whatever you can to minimize YOUR heartburn. Which brings me to my last point:

Allow yourself to recognize your limitations as a human being and how frustrating this situation truly IS. Leave the room when the irritation factor gets too great. Minimize the lengthy conversations you try to have with your mother at the dinner table and use body language and head movements instead.

Wishing you the very best of luck in a very tough and grueling situation. I feel your pain. Daily.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to lealonnie1
shelli382 Sep 4, 2020
Thank You for getting it! She has had her ears checked, No wax, just plan old hearing loss. Hearing aids are $5000.00. How can a woman who lives on only $1000.00 a month afford that? Most places consider them cosmetic? How is that possible when hearing is essential? Looks like a white board is next on my list. Thank you again.
See if she has wax build up in her ears. It will cause hearing loss. Call your County disabilities dept and see if there are any programs available for Mom. Medicare won't pay for a hearing aide but they will pay for an exam

"Hearing & balance exams

covers diagnostic hearing and balance exams if your doctor or other health care provider orders them to see if you need medical treatment. You pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for your doctor's services for covered exams, and the Part B Deductible [glossary] applies."

Check her supplimental or Medicare Advantage.
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Reply to JoAnn29

Google free hearing aids for seniors and there is a list.
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Reply to LCPELC

You can start by taking her to her PCP to check for wax. Many times offices may be able to schedule another appointment in the office to have staff do a clean out. It needs to be done before an audiologist appointment as well
If she has dementia then she will not be able to follow directions to take the test. She needs to repeat spoken words and hit a clicker spwhen she hears sounds. So even if she gets the aids, they are very tiny and easily lost. Plus she may deny hearing loss and toss them in the trash.

Do be aware that some seniors can hear but their brains may not recognize words and process them
Start by spending $50 on those transistor hearing devices but instead of the earbuds, get a $5 over ear headphone. If she gets agitated, put them on to calmly talk to her. She may not want to wear it all day, but try to get her to use them for important times.
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Reply to MACinCT

I agree with everything lealonnie said. I use all those tactics on my mother. Sometimes it backfires. When I shake my head no or nod my head yes she says to me “what’s the matter, can’t you talk “? She HATES it when I use body language instead of talking. Now when she says that to me I just SHRUG my shoulders!
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Reply to elaine1962

There are personal amplifiers that are much less expensive than HA's which can do a pretty good job for one on one conversations but someone a few months ago mentioned personal microphones (or voice amplifiers) that amplify what you are saying so at least you don't have to wear out your voice shouting and I thought that was brilliant, especially for anyone who is resistant or unable to try other devices.
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Reply to cwillie

Maybe all can learn sign language for at least basic things. Learn a few words a day and practice till it becomes habit then move on to a few more new ones.
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Reply to LCPELC

Can members of the family pool some money to pay for the hearing aids for her and get some relief for those who try to visit with her?? Does she have any income that would allow charging the aids and paying out monthly over a period of time? Or, does she say she can't afford it when really she could - she's just not interested in spending the money.

The weirdest thing about loss of hearing is how many of the people don't want a hearing aid. Once you start talking loud for them, you solve the problem, somewhat. Even when they don't understand what you said, they don't accept the misunderstanding as being 'their' problem and resolvable with hearing aids.

My uncle could come up with the craziest "I thought you said" things ever. Funny story - He got his hands on some hearing aids when one of his relatives died. He put them in his ears and made several remarks about hearing things better. While we were outside in the evening, he pulled them off, put them back several times. Then he said, what is that constant noise I hear. He tried to describe it since we didn't notice anything. Through trial and error, we figured out it was the locusts in the trees! He hadn't heard them in years! He pulled them out and decided if that's what hearing aids made you hear, he didn't need them. Who wants to listen to that kind of constant noise? We were already used to screaming around him, so he was accommodated the rest of his life - but it sure was draining on us.

Have you taken her to her doctor to ask them to check her ears for wax buildup? Especially if she has used Qtips for years to clean her ears. Ask doctor first if they clean ears - some do and some don't. You may have to take her to audiologist to have it done and while there do a hearing test to see if she needs the hearing aids.

You can discuss her financial issue to see if they are aware of any assistance program or a cheap way to get the devices. You will at least have the report from audiologist if you locate an assistance program to show what her hearing loss is. You also need to ask if they take whatever health coverage she has - medicare, medicaid, insurance. Do a search online for hearing aid assistance programs in your area.
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Reply to my2cents

Our mother has otosclerosis ("Otosclerosis is the abnormal growth of bone of the MIDDLE ear. This bone prevents structures within the ear from working properly and causes hearing loss. For some people with otosclerosis, the hearing loss may become severe.") She developed this long ago, and I learned the most about it reading something Florence Henderson (mom on the Brady Bunch) wrote about it, as she had this too. It IS surgically correctable, but docs have to cover warnings, so when she was told they do one ear at a time, just in case, because it can cause balance problems, nope!

So she has worn hearing aids for MANY years. When she moved to MC, she still was using one (not much hearing left in the other ear, as this is progressive.) She was already forgetting to replace the battery and a few times misplaced it. Despite asking them to make an effort to schedule battery replacement every 2 weeks, they didn't. Sometimes I would have to go locate it in her room, sometimes I had to check it and replace the battery, sometimes when asked she would say she didn't wear one!

Anyway, the worst expected finally happened. It was in her sheets and it went through the laundry. I had to find a new provider (no response after multiple tries to contact the previous one) and he set her up with the newer model that is rechargeable. He made the mold for both to fit the one ear. I gave the charger to the nurse, so it wouldn't "disappear" and asked them to take it at night and charge it, then give it back in the morning. About 2 months later, the first one went AWOL, most likely taken out and wrapped in napkin or tissue and thrown away by staff. SIGH. The facility would not help cover the replacement cost (only $400 as it comes with warranty that covers loss too.) We set up the second one, but most/all of the time she isn't wearing it. She takes it out and they take it away.

Even before the first one was laundered, I purchased a Boogie Board on AM. It is an LCD screen that you can "write" on and erase with the push of a button. When she couldn't hear well enough, I would write it down. It was helpful to me AND the staff. Once it also went AWOL (hot pink, about 5x8, so it should be easy to find!) A few weeks later, it reappeared. Since we aren't allowed in, no clue if they still use it. She's also refusing to stand/walk now, so there's no way she can "port" it around now (used to keep it in the rollator basket.)

Recently they have allowed outdoor visits, but with masks and 6' apart. Knowing we couldn't "share" the Boogie Board, I bought a small white board at WM. It helped a bit, but the visit wasn't long as it is hard to communicate with her and it was HOT out (even under the canopy)!

You could try the amplifiers and see how that goes. One doc tried to use this with mom, even though she had the hearing aid in (on the wrong side for communicating with docs!) She wanted nothing to do with it, and this was about 5 yrs ago! If it works for your mother, great.

If not, try the Boogie or white board. Any conversations that have nothing to do with her, try to have those when she isn't present. If what needs to be said involves her, use the board. Also, ensure whoever is talking is in front of her. I believe my mother was capable of some minimal lip reading. She did complain to a staff member about the masks they have to wear, probably because she can't see the lips! Speak slowly, enunciate well and keep whatever you say to a minimum - wordiness can result in her missing a lot.

If she also has dementia, this will make it more difficult. Even if you can find affordable hearing aids or amplifier, she may refuse to use them. In addition to not hearing everything, she may be misinterpreting what she does hear. If she hasn't been Dxed yet, perhaps a good checkup and testing is in order.

Hopefully you can find a resolution. I know it isn't fun dealing with someone who has hearing loss AND is difficult!
Helpful Answer (0)
Reply to disgustedtoo

First, look into what Medicare advantage your Mom has. Have her doctor check for hard earwax. If that is the problem, plesse have it removed. We do face visiting obstacles during COVID-19, but an in office visit may be necessary. Earwax cannot be removed by video visit. If her doctor refuses an in-person visit, ask for another doctor, preferably a specialist, who will and prevent ear infection, then move forward to what additional hearing problem your Mom has.
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Reply to Patathome01

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