How can we get my dad, who has Alzheimer's, to put in his hearing aids himself?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 04, 2016
Kittymama asked...

My father, who is in the moderate stage of Alzheimer's, just got a new set of hearing aids. They are very lightweight and hard to see when in the ear. He has already lost one and refuses to put them in on his own. Once he has them in, he forgets that they are there and can hear so much better. Any suggestions on how to get him to put them in on his own? I tried putting them with his glasses and trying to get him to put them in first thing in the morning when he puts his glasses on, but so far no luck. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Expert Answers

Deborah Cooke is a gerontologist specializing in dementia, delirium, caregiving, and senior fitness. She is a certified dementia care provider and specialist through the Alzheimer's Foundation of America. Cooke currently manages several multidisciplinary programs to enhance well-being for hospitalized seniors and other vulnerable patients at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. She also serves on the board of NewYork-Presbyterian's Patient and Family Education Advisory Committee. She has 18 years of experience working with the aging and caregiver communities.

Hi. You must be frustrated, as is anyone who tries to communicate with your father.

A few questions to think about:
Does he understand the hearing aid and what it does?
Does he know how to put them in himself?
Does he remember they exist?
Or is he just plain stubborn?

Also determine if he has any physical impairments that may make this a difficult task. Being so small, it requires fine motor skills. If he has tremors, or other impairments that may effect his ability, this may be difficult to remedy.

You may think about creating a checklist of things to do in the morning and the evening. Try making this part of a routine. A list in a very visible place may be helpful: on the bathroom mirror, by the coffee pot, by the toilet, on the refrigerator.

Brush your teeth.
Wash your face.
Put on your glasses. Put your hearing aids in.
Get dressed.

Also, think about your own behavior. If you continue to do this for him, he will begin to rely on you. If this has been going on for a while, this will be tough to break.

Sometimes it helps to have a third party talk to him about it. We are more inclined to do what a teacher says, but not our parents. This may be something to think about.

Finally, if he already knows they exist and is just refusing to put them in, he may be stubborn. Unfortunately, bad habits are hard to break.