Do you work with the elderlay? This article is for you.

August 15, 2010 by Martine Rodrigue
Do you work in place where seniors live or visit for pleasure? Do you believe that you know them well and that their lifestyles hold no secrets for you?

You enjoy sharing good times with enthusiastic seniors: they always have a good joke to tell, they laugh, they speak loudly and are ready to join in on all the activities offered them. Sometimes you’re even envious of their energy.

There are others who are a little more reserved: they chat, they play scrabble, they read. They’re satisfied with their social lives. They respond and smile at you when you address them, and sometimes they speak with pride about their children. They’re charming.

But of course, there are also those who are lonely and withdrawn. Well, they have the right to choose not to mingle with the others. If this is how they’ve chosen to live, why try to change it? Still, they intrigue you and you’d really like to know them better. You tell yourself that they must certainly have something interesting to talk about…if only you could break through their reserve.

It is true that a community’s richness is a result of the diversity of its members. Who can boast about being able to truly guess the reasons why one person is reserved or timid while another is an extrovert? Psychologists don’t all agree on the fact that individual personalities can change over the years, so why would we want to draw someone out of his or her shell?

Nevertheless, there may be another reason for the withdrawal from society, something that is not by choice. It may that they have age-related hearing loss – presbycusis.

Presbycusis is a loss of hearing acuity that affects almost half of adults aged 75 and over, and of those affected, the hearing loss is gradual and may be progressive. First of all, some syllables may be difficult to identify, a bird’s song may become inaudible, as may the ticking of a watch. Then, it’s conversations that become more arduous, so much so that one may simply withdraw to avoid such unpleasant situations. One may stop participating in activities that used to be enjoyable.

It’s very troubling to realize that so many seniors experience hearing impairment. If only we could do something for them!

Watching for signs of hearing difficulties and recognizing them helps us direct our seniors to audiology resources which will offer them ways to break through their isolation.

Perhaps this solitude we sometimes observe is a reflection of a medical condition rather than natural introversion. Let’s be vigilant and do our best to preserve the quality of life of our seniors.

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