Dear Donna:

My father’s hearing loss has gotten very bad over the past few years. While I want him to be able to stay independent for as long as possible, I worry a lot about his ability to be safe. I’m especially concerned because, despite our best efforts to convince him to stop, he still smokes. I was at his house one day when the smoke alarm in the dining room went off while he was cooking and he didn’t even hear it! I’m not sure what to do with him.

Alysha in Holland, Michigan

Dear Alysha:

You are right. Smoking and hearing loss are a tough combination. I’m sure it is does create a lot of anxiety for you.

There are definitely smoke detectors and alert systems that can help with your father’s situation. They are specifically designed for those living with a hearing impairment. I’m sure they can help to ease some of the fears you have about your father’s safety. Most of the major smoke detector manufacturers make them. What is different about these products is that they flash a strobe light and/or send out a strong vibration to alert those living with a hearing impairment of the danger. Many also have an alert that will actually shake the bed in case the home’s resident is sleeping when the smoke detector goes off.

Thank you for sharing your concern with us, Alysha. It provides us with an opportunity to help raise awareness about National Fire Prevention Week which begins on October 4th. Seniors are twice as likely to be harmed or fatally injured in a fire. After the age of 85, that risk goes up to four times more likely.

There are a variety of ways you and other adult children in Michigan can to decrease a senior loved one’s fire safety risk. The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) has a library of resources that can help. They range from kitchen safety tips to escape planning.

I hope this information is helpful, Alysha!


“Dear Donna” is an aging expert from Heritage Senior Communities, a family-owned company serving seniors across the state of Michigan for 67 years. Older adults in the greater Holland area will soon have the opportunity to tour our nearly completed Village at Appledorn West community. It will be home to 88 independent senior living apartments. Construction is projected to be completed this month. An assisted living community will also open on the same campus in the late spring of 2015.


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