4 Tips to Discussing Hearing Loss with a Loved One
Hearing loss is the third most common health problem in the US, but it can be an isolating and daunting experience. We take our senses for granted and it takes time to come to terms with any change in our abilities.
Hearing loss can have a negative impact on a person’s life if left untreated. The Hearing Loss Association of America estimates that 80% of people who could benefit from hearing aids do not wear one. Hearing loss can leave a person feeling frustrated, depressed and cut off from society. They may withdraw from social occasions or get easily stressed in normal situations.
This can be equally frustrating and emotional for friends and family, who are often the first to notice signs of hearing loss in a loved one. Perhaps the television volume is constantly turned up too high, or the person is always asking people to repeat themselves or accusing friends of mumbling. These everyday occurrences can cause a strain in relationships, and it is natural to want to help your loved one.
Hearing loss is a sensitive and personal subject and many people are reluctant to discuss it. Denial is a classic coping strategy that gives a person time to adjust to new situations, but it is important for them to get the help they need. Here are some suggestions on how to get the conversation started.
1) Choose the right place and time
Frustrating situations can lead you to snap at your loved one and point out their hearing loss in the moment. This can often sound like an accusation and lead to the person becoming defensive, upset or depressed. Plan ahead, choosing a safe, familiar and quiet place to have the conversation. Perhaps invite them over for dinner or choose a favorite cafe to help them feel comfortable and at ease.
2) Don’t lecture and stay calm
People with hearing loss are usually aware of it. Bear this in mind and talk through it with them, rather than speaking at them. Offering a compassionate and respectful approach will encourage your loved one to share their worries with you. Be aware that the conversation could quickly become heated and emotional. Try to stay calm and avoid confrontations, listening to what your loved one has to say and giving them time to finish their sentences.
3) Help them see the bigger picture and be positive
It may be helpful to explain how their hearing loss is affecting your life or the family environment. Find out what their fears are and give them your reassurances – this is a challenge that you can face together. Perhaps they have concerns about getting older, wearing hearing aids or accepting that their health has changed. Focus on the many benefits and solutions available to them. There are many different modern hearing solutions, and getting treatment can lead to a much higher quality of life for everyone.
4) Do your research
Find out what a hearing test involves and read up on new hearing solutions and technologies. Offer to help your loved one book an appointment and accompany them there – and follow up on the offer. Knowing that they have support may help a person feel a much more confident about seeking help.
The next steps
Hearing loss is an emotional and physical journey, and friends and families play an important role along the way. Helping your loved one face this challenge can change their life for the better. For more information about hearing loss or to book an appointment, contact us via our website or on (844) 968-6371.