Talking to a Loved One About Hearing Loss
Most hearing loss happens gradually over time making it difficult for individuals to recognize it in themselves. Those closest to someone with hearing loss may be able to notice the first symptoms even before their loved one acknowledges the issue. On average, it takes around seven years for those suffering from hearing trouble to seek help from the time they first notice symptoms. However, hearing problems can be a dramatic detriment to a person’s quality of life, limiting their social comfort and ability to communicate as well as provoking feelings of isolation, anxiety and depression.
Catching hearing disorders early can minimize these negative consequences and improve treatment. If you think you recognize hearing loss symptoms occurring with a loved one, help them to see the signs that they should seek treatment. Hearing loss is very common, but also very treatable especially with hearing aid technology. Although hearing loss can feel very isolating, no one is alone in their journey. Over 45 million people live with hearing loss including one in every three individuals over 65 and one in every two people over age 75.
How can you tell if a friend or family member is struggling with their hearing?
Warning signs that someone is dealing with hearing loss can include them frequently asking you to repeat what you say, turning up the volume on a television or radio, and declining to participate in noisy group situations like restaurants or parties.
Before confronting someone about their hearing, do a little research into hearing loss, looking at both what it can entail and helpful solutions. If you have other friends or family members who have dealt with hearing issues, communicate with them about their experience and knowledge. If you, yourself, have had hearing loss, bring your own story into helping inform the conversation you are going to have with your loved one. Take time to research local doctors and resources for a hearing consultation.
Have a calm and informed conversation
Once you’ve gathered your facts and investigated some courses of action, it’s time to have an open and frank conversation with your loved one. Try to have this talk in a place that is quiet and private to help minimize any trouble they may have with recognizing speech.
Ground your conversation in your observations of their hearing struggles and the benefit of seeking diagnosis and treatment. Use “I Statements” to make your case, and stay away from speaking in absolutes. Ask them about their perspective and incorporate it into the conversation.
Instead of framing the problem as “You never understand what anyone says!” try using specific examples that are open to a response such as “I noticed you had trouble understanding the kids when we ate out last week, does that happen often?” Throughout the conversation, remain calm and patient and make sure your loved one understands everything you are saying. Repeat anything they ask you to repeat and listen fully to their viewpoint.
Be open to your loved one’s experiences and offer support
Often people first confronted with hearing loss will go through some form of denial. Without a compassionate comparison, it can be hard for them to realize what they aren’t hearing. They may feel embarrassed, angry or emotional about their hearing loss. Recognize their feelings, but also let them know you love them and they shouldn’t feel stigmatized. Be sure to emphasize that confronting hearing issues can be a straightforward process and finding solutions can offer a lot of relief.
On the whole, always stay positive through this process. There’s no shame in having hearing loss and with treatment and technology many people manage compromised hearing with a minimal impact on their lives. Hearing aid technology is constantly advancing and there are many custom solutions available to patients. In seeking help, your loved one stands to regain confidence and clarity in the way they communicate and understand the world around them.
Encourage your friend or family member to take the next step towards regaining their hearing. Offer to assist them in setting up a hearing consultation and follow up with them about their plan of action. Making your loved one feel cared for and supported can make all the difference in helping them come to terms with their hearing loss.
Hearing Wellness Solutions
At Hearing Wellness Solutions we’re here to assist you with treating hearing loss. We offer hearing aids in Springfield, MO, as well as a variety of other hearing-related services. Contact our office today to set up a consultation, we are happy to offer you our guidance every step of the way.