Last Updated: March 10, 2015
A Sign of the Times: Communities Designed for Deaf Seniors
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other
Communication Disorders, disabling hearing loss affects 25% of
seniors aged 65 to 74 and 50% of seniors aged 75 and older. Yet
even with alarming stats like these, deaf assisted living is a
fairly recent trend; the first deaf assisted living community in
the United States - Gresham, Oregon's Chestnut Lane - has only been in operation
since 2003. Demand has risen quickly, however, and there are now
more than a dozen deaf-exclusive retirement facilities in the US,
all of which frequently draw residents from hundreds of miles
Deaf Assisted Living FAQ
What is deaf assisted living? How is it different from
"deaf-friendly" or standard care?
Both the concept of deaf assisted living and the terminology
used to describe it are fairly new; thus, terms may be used
inconsistently. Generally speaking, most assisted living facilities
are "deaf-friendly" in that they can accommodate deaf seniors, but
complete deaf assisted living facilities are designed specifically
for deaf residents and serve them almost exclusively.
What types of amenities do deaf assisted living facilities
Specific accommodations may vary from community to community,
but common features include the following:
- Staff Fluent in American Sign Language
In fact, many times, staff members are deaf themselves.
Sign-language interpreters are generally also on hand to help
patients interact with non-community members.
- Alternative Alarm Systems
From "doorbells" that light up to fire alarms that make use of
high-intensity strobe lights or bed vibrations, emergency
communication systems at deaf assisted living facilities do not
require the ability to hear.
- Specialized Audiovisual Equipment
Video conferencing systems that allow residents to communicate
with sign language and caption-enabled televisions are
Deaf Assisted Living Communities
Deaf Community Resources for Seniors
In addition to assisted living facilities for the deaf, most
major cities have social clubs and support groups for deaf seniors.
To learn more about programs and activities in your area, contact
one of the following groups: