Protecting the independence of our elders

May 15, 2011 by Martine Rodrigue

Protecting the independence of  our elders

Losing one’s ability to hear can be brought on by several factors. It can be hereditary, related to a condition affecting the vascular system, or due to prolonged noise exposure or a host of other known risk factors.

Too often, hearing loss is treated as a normal part of the aging process that we just have to accept, much like other physical impairments that typically develop in elderly people. Nothing could be more wrong. Sadly, this widely held belief leads older people, as well as their loved ones, to unfortunate acts of negligence.

Such negligence can have a number of negative outcomes, the most serious long-term effect being isolation.

Being unable to hear can affect a person’s notion of time and space, threaten one’s sense of security and drastically diminish the sufferer’s contact with the outside world. This gradual withdrawal from society as a result of a hearing impairment has a ripple effect on all aspects of a person’s life, and he or she eventually ends up retreating behind a devastating wall of silence.

For society’s most vulnerable, this silence can even mask certain forms of abuse. When people no longer take the time to explain to grandpa that they are planning to sell his house, because “he wouldn’t understand anyway,” they deprive him of his right to express his needs and personal choices. He can’t hear anymore, so we don’t listen!

Let’s make it our job to stop this from happening! Through our own vigilance, we can break down the barriers facing those we hold dear. We can put scientific advances and the growing expertise of industry professionals to use and empower our elders to remain INDEPENDENT. Let’s keep losing one’s self reliance from becoming an inescapable truth, purely out of neglect.

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