Posted by HearStore on Jun 14th 2017
Talking to a loved one about hearing loss can be a difficult and intimidating task. While it may be obvious to you and everyone around that your loved one is suffering from hearing loss, they likely don’t realize or don’t want to admit they are having trouble. This denial is not unusual, most people wait an average of 7 to 10 years before they decide to do something about their hearing loss. It is easier for him or her to live with their hearing loss than admit they have a problem that is perceived as something only older people can have. The stigma associated with hearing aids is another major reason people avoid doing something for their hearing loss. They don’t want to be perceived as weak, old, or inferior.
Here are five tips for talking to a loved one about hearing loss:
In recent years, there have been many studies on the effects of untreated hearing loss and related health conditions. You may want to read about potential causes of hearing loss, as well as the process of testing one’s hearing. Hearing aid manufacturers offer a diverse range of treatment options to address varying degrees of hearing loss and to fit seamlessly into different lifestyles. You may be able to find a hearing test online and take a sample one, so you can impart this information with your loved one. The more information you have will empower you to talk with your loved one about seeking treatment.
Pick a good location and speak clearly
Prepare for talking to a loved one about hearing loss by choosing a location that is quiet and comfortable. Eliminate or reduce background noise and speak slowly and clearly in a face-to-face situation. Having hearing loss can make even the most basic conversations stressful; so set yourself up for a successful conversation by choosing the best setting.
Listen to your loved one
After you have expressed your concerns with your loved one, give them space to talk about their fears, frustrations, and needs. Keep in mind that this is a vulnerable and insecure time for them, and that hearing loss affects a fundamental part of their experience. Ask questions that will lead to expansive answers so that you can help your loved one find solutions.
The absolute worst thing you can do when talking to a loved one about hearing loss is sound accusatory. Remember, this is a difficult thing to admit and when you make it seem like it is their fault, they will become defensive and closed off. Instead of “you never hear what I say to you,” try “ I am concerned by how often you ask everyone to repeat themselves,” and “it would make mefeel better if you had your hearing checked.” Nobody wants to be told what to do, but if you make it sound like you are asking him or her to do it for you, they may be more likely to agree.
Talk about hearing aids and hearing loss in a positive light. Remind him or her that hearing loss is a very common problem and hearing aids have advanced tremendously. Give real life examples so they can begin to think about how it may help them in their life. For example, “you’ll be able to hear your grandson when he tries to tell you what he’s learning in school.” You can also share stories of people you know and how hearing aids have improved their lives. For example, “my co-worker was able to hear the fire alarm in her home because of her new hearing aids. She says they saved her life.” You may want to turn to the internet for this step, patient testimonials and images of new hearing aid technology can help back up your claims.
Explain how hearing loss can lead to other health problems
When talking to a loved one about hearing loss stress that the longer they live with hearing loss the worse it will get and that it cannot be reversed. Recent studies have linked hearing loss to countless other health issues including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and dementia. Research has also determined people with hearing loss are more like to withdraw from social activities and develop severe depression.
Offer to have your hearing tested too
It can’t hurt to know how your hearing measures up. Plus, if your loved one has some support they may not be as nervous. An in office visit is a good opportunity to see just how advanced and tiny hearing aids have become. If they are not so eager to head into an office you can try and online hearing test or checklist. It will only take a few minutes and will give you a more objective look at their hearing problem.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again! They may brush off your suggestions the first time, but research shows that pressure from family is the number one reason people agreed to address a hearing problem. However the conversations go just remember to be positive and patient. It may not be easy, but it is necessary.
If talking to a loved one about hearing loss does not seem to get the message across after multiple attempts, another more drastic step is to stop acting as their ears. Do not automatically repeat something someone tried to say to them and stop raising your voice to be heard. The Better Hearing Institute recommends using an alerting phrase like “Hearing Helper,” you should say it every time you are asked to repeat yourself. This will help make it obvious how often they need your help to hear.
HELPING LOVED ONES GET USED TO HEARING AIDS
When someone close to you decides to make the life changing decision to buy hearing aids, it is an exciting time for everyone in their lives. It is important to remember adjusting to the hearing world requires time and patience, lucky for them; there is no one better to help them along that journey than you!
Here are our tips for helping loved ones get used to hearing aids:
- Remember that admitting they have hearing loss is a major step, so be kind and supportive during this big moment.
- To better understand what someone with hearing loss has been experiencing take the time to learn a little about hearing loss. Various websites offer hearing loss simulators that let you hear exactly what your loved one has been going through. Check it out HERE; you may be surprised what your loved one has been living with.
- Over the years you may have gotten used to shouting so the person in your life with hearing loss could understand you. Be sure to get used to talking to them at a normal volume, so they don’t become annoyed with you.
- Hearing aids allow users to hear subtle sounds they haven’t heard in some time, like the ticking of the clock and the rustling of clothes. While it is good to be able to hear these noises again, they can seem very loud at first because the brain has to relearn how to interpret them. The best thing you can do to help in this process is be positive and understanding. Encourage them to keep using their new hearing aid, so that they will get used to the sounds. Eventually things will sound more normal to them.
- For the first few days resist taking them to noisy places like a cocktail party or a crowded restaurant. For a new hearing aid wearer the sounds in places like that can be overwhelming until they have trained their ears to distinguish between sounds. In time, once they get used to hearing aids, they will be able to enjoy outings again, but take baby steps at first.
- Finally, ask them what you can do to make the transition easier, but don’t pester them with questions about what they can now hear. In short, just be there for them during this time of change. Deciding to seek help for your hearing loss is a big decision, but it’s only the first step. Once they get used to hearing aids both of you will reap the benefits.