Talking to Your Loved One About Hearing Loss

Adult Son Visiting Senior Father. Hearing loss

No one is excited to begin to notice hearing loss. The experience can be disorienting, and even frightening. It is all too common for those who are new to hearing loss to go through a period of grieving. Those who are close to a person with hearing loss might not take this grieving for what it is, and frequently become frustrated at what they see as their loved one’s refusal to solve the problem by getting a set of hearing aids.

Sooner or later, a person with hearing loss should do the sensible thing: get a hearing test, and get a set of hearing aids. Studies on hearing loss abound, revealing the dangers of letting hearing loss go untreated. Common outcomes of untreated hearing loss include depression, loneliness, social isolation, increased risk of accidental injury, decreased physical activity, and even earlier onset of cognitive decline and dementia.

The flipside of that coin is that treating hearing loss can reopen the door to a world that may have seemed lost. Those who treat hearing loss with hearing aids report feeling more confident, independent, and optimistic. It makes sense, doesn’t it? When we treat our hearing loss, we can feel comfortable navigating the world again. We can strike up a conversation with a stranger, confident that we’ll hear what they have to say!

If your loved one is living with untreated hearing loss, it’s good to encourage them toward treatment. However, it may be the case that they dig in their heels and continue to refuse treatment. Here are a few tips to help your loved one see their way clear to hearing loss treatment, and avoid pushing them in the opposite of the intended direction!

Pay Attention to Set and Setting

You want to have a thoughtful, open conversation. It’s important to remove distractions and make it as easy as possible for the two of you to communicate. This is not the time to demonstrate to your loved one how little they can hear when you try to speak to them, but a time to help them hear your concern.

Choose a quiet place to talk. Background sound makes it much more difficult for a person with hearing loss to understand speech. If you’re at home, pick the quietest room to talk in. Keep radios and televisions off, and avoid window A/C units and other loud appliances. Make sure there is plenty of light. If you’re outdoors, make sure the sun is shining on your face, not theirs, so they can see you clearly. Those with hearing loss frequently come to rely on facial expressions and lipreading to help them follow a conversation.

Do Your Research

You don’t want to inundate your loved one with facts and frightening statistics, but having some information at the ready is a good idea. There are common misconceptions about hearing loss and hearing aids, so having some cold, hard truths ready to go may help dispel some spurious notions.

For example, a common refrain among those reluctant to start wearing hearing aids is that hearing aids will make them “feel old.” In fact, it is more common for untreated hearing loss to engender more of the behaviors and physical atrophy associated with old age. Hearing aids, on the other hand, help us to continue to live our lives the way we want, in spite of the onset of hearing loss.

Talk… And Listen

Tell your loved one about some of the times when their hearing loss was apparent to you. You don’t want to start an argument or rehash old fights, but let them know about a time when their hearing loss may have caused some pain, frustration or sadness for you. Ask them if they’ve had similar experiences.

Let your loved one speak as much as they like. Give them the opportunity to think about how hearing loss has changed their life, and how they might like things to be different. It’s likely they have been holding in some fears and concerns, and if they’re ready to talk about them, don’t interrupt!

Offer Your Assistance

Remind your loved one that you’re there for them no matter what. Offer your help with making an appointment for a hearing test, driving them to it, and/or attending it. It’s always recommended that a person seeking hearing aids have a “buddy” at their appointment, as there is a lot of information to go over, and two heads remember more than one!

If you or your loved one is ready to pursue treatment for hearing loss, make an appointment for a hearing test today and get started on your journey toward better hearing!