My Mother is apparently becoming tone deaf. Any advice? - AgingCare.com

My Mother is apparently becoming tone deaf. Any advice?

Follow
Share

My 92 year old mother was a trained singer when she was young and always had a beautiful voice. She has moderate dementia at this point and over the last 4-5 years or so has begun to believe that her electronic keyboard is out of tune. When we swapped hers for ours, she said the same thing. She insists that we get her keyboard tuned but, of course, electronic keyboards cannot be tuned and both of them sound fine to the rest of the family. So, to try and address this my husband and daughter took her to a music store where she played no less than 10 NEW keyboards, all of which to her ears were (you guessed it) out of tune. Taking her to our church where she was permitted to play the JUST TUNED piano resulted in the same declaration. She does have significant hearing loss at this point as well but refuses to use a hearing aid and that's just as well as she has "lost" her lower dentures twice in the last month and a half. Has anyone heard of or know about whether dementia has an impact on tone deafness?

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
9

Answers

Show:
Pam - Mom's primary physician checks her ears on visits and she did have some wax build up at one point that was resolved with the use of drops for about 7 days and then flushing in the office. Unfortunately, this didn't change her ability to hear better, or perceive tonal quality any differently. Lindaz - thank you very much for the suggestion of putting any hearing aids that may be purchased on our homeowners policy....I honestly didn't know I could even do this. Wonder if I can do it for the dentures, too? I truly appreciate all of the helpful input everyone has been so gracious in sharing. As many have said, this site is a God-send!
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Linda raises a good issue; from my limited knowledge of hearing loss, I understand it can be in different ranges. For my father, it's in ranges that women would speak - higher pitched, softer voices. He can hear men much better.

Can you determine from your mother what areas of tones she thinks are off, such as octaves about middle C and higher? Can she hear bass tones without problems?
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Her hearing loss is probably the reason for her tone deafness....depending on whether her hearing loss is sensory-neural or noise induced could cause this symptom....there are probably auditory sounds that she can no longer hear, and this is why she complains about things being out of tune. Going to a 'good' audiologist is a great idea and they will be able to tell you what ranges have the difficulty and whether or not hearing aids may help her. If she does have dementia and she does get hearing aids, please put them on your homeowners insurance, so that when she looses them you can get them replaced without breaking the bank! :) Speaking from experience my Mom lost 5 of them, even with us, the nurses and the aides all trying to keep track of them. It got to be quite costly!
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

I would take her to the best ENT I could find, and be absolutely certain there is not a wax problem or fluid build up in the inner ear.
Read articles at the Kresge Hearing Research Institute at the University of Michigan website for causes and treatments of pitch interpretation losses
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

IMB, this was an interesting question for me as well as in doing the quick research I learned that aspirin can cause deafness. My father has been taking it for years on recommendation of our very well respected cardiologist. Dad's hearing has continued to deteriorate. Now I'm wondering if aspirin was a contributing factor.

I think you've analyzed the situation right - I think singers have gifts and talents that contribute to their ability to sing so beautifully and accurately, and like any other artist, can have a difficult time adjusting to a loss of that, especially since your mother didn't read music. I recall becoming frustrated just playing piano when my left hand became somewhat arthritic and couldn't keep up with the right. So now I just play left handed chords intermittently!

Your post reminded me of Beethoven's deafness. To have accomplished all that he did but lose his hearing must have been devastating.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

Many thanks for the feedback thus far, folks. She actually does acknowledge that her right ear isn't good but believes she can hear "fine" out of her left (she can't). And, at 92, she is in surprisingly overall good health, taking just a couple of meds (one for cholesterol and the other for mild high BP) and is averse to taking anything "unless I really need it", including IB. She does take a baby aspirin daily, though, because the doctor recommended it. GardenArtist - We've tried the CD approach as well and...no surprise here....they, too, just don't sound right. I believe you are correct that this was such a God given gift (and it is what, in her mind, made her special) and believe it or not, she was able to play a piano just by her ear alone (never learned to read music - don't ask how that didn't impact her career as I don't have the faintest idea). Thanks for the good wishes on dealing with this....she has really driven us all kind of batty complaining about it all the time.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Apologies; when switching screens the post ran away from me and posted w/o my permission!

Continuing the "out of curiosity sentence"..... I googled "meds, side effects - hearing loss" and got a lot of hits, including medical reference sites.

This one is worth browsing - there are a surprising number of common meds that do affect hearing: aspirin, NSAIDs - very common meds.

webmd/a-to-z-guides/medicines-that-cause-hearing-loss-topic-overview
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Adding that the audiologist should check specifically for ear or other infections that might affect her hearing. I don't have specific knowledge to this effect as I haven't checked it out, but I'm wondering also if any meds were changed or added recently. It may be possible that some affect hearing. Amiodarone can affect taste and sense of smell.

Out of curiosity I just googled "

It is possible as well that she's entrenched in denial, which is understandable given that she was a professional singer and could be losing a faculty that was critical to her profession.

Does she have a tuning fork?

In the interim, perhaps you could try playing CDs for her - it might inspire her to sing along and switch her focus, although I suspect that she's unable to admit her hearing is deteriorating.

Best of luck to you in addressing this issue.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Not specifically. Have you had her ears checked by an audiologist? They are found at ENT's (Ears, Nose and Throat doctors). I wouldn't go to a hearing aid company first. I know they also employ audiologists, but I think they would be biased, just my opinion. Anyway, the audiologist would test her hearing and let you know if hearing aids would even be helpful. Many times, hearing loss isn't even correctible with an aid. They might have suggestions for helping with your mother.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Related
Questions