How to talk to a loved one about their hearing loss.
Hearing loss is the third most common medical condition in the United States, affecting 48 million Americans. For older Americans, age 65 and above, one in three people experience some degree of hearing loss. The prevalence of this condition means that most of us know someone who has hearing loss, or who is in the process of gradually developing hearing loss.
Hearing loss is an invisible condition, and it often develops gradually over a period of time. At first, the signs of hearing loss may not be obvious to us. In many cases, the loved ones of people with hearing loss will notice the changes first. We may find ourselves asking our loved one to turn down the TV or we may grow frustrated at having to repeat ourselves often.
If you suspect your loved one is experiencing hearing loss, it is important to address the issue sooner, rather than later. There are many benefits to identifying and treating hearing loss as soon as possible – from improved interpersonal relations to ensuring safety to earning power on the job.
Because hearing is a sensitive topic, we have outlined some tips for you to talk to your loved one about hearing loss.
Research the Details of Hearing Loss
Untreated hearing loss has the potential to affect many different areas of our lives. Hearing loss could affect interpersonal relationships, jeopardize our safety (by interfering with our ability to hear car horns, security alarms, etc.), and even affect our earning power in the workplace. Beyond this, hearing loss has been linked to a potential risk for dementia, not to mention anxiety, depression, and stress.
Before you speak to your loved one about hearing loss, spend some time researching the effects of untreated hearing loss. You may find resources online, such as Hearing Loss Association of America (hearingloss.org) and the American Speech Language Hearing Association (asha.org).
Also, spend some time researching options to treat hearing loss and the benefits that come with using a hearing aid.
Choose a Quiet, Private Location
Hearing loss makes conversation challenging. It is difficult for people with hearing loss to follow conversations and speakers’ voices, especially in very noisy environments. When you get ready to have this conversation with your loved one, find a quiet, private location. The less distraction of background noise – the better!
Make sure there is no loud music playing. Also, because it is a sensitive topic, ensure that it is a private location so that no one barges in.
Speak from Your Experience
Chances are, your loved one may have already noticed changes in their hearing, but they may not be fully ready to admit it or address it. To ensure that your loved one does not go on the defense and close up, speak from your own experience.
Tell your loved one your concerns, and how it is uncomfortable for you to listen to music and television at loud volumes. Tell your loved one that it is frustrating when you have to repeat yourself multiple times, or when your conversations are not fruitful because you are not being understood.
Communication is the foundation of every healthy relationship – and hearing loss has the potential to break down relationships because it interferes with everyday conversation.
After you’ve voiced your concerns, allow your loved one room to talk. Practice active listening, asking questions that will help to reveal more information about your loved one’s concerns and fears.
Hearing loss can be a disorienting and scary experience for anyone. Giving your loved one room to speak about their experience will help them feel better – and also perhaps earn your trust to take next steps.
Offer Your Support
Ask your loved one what they would like to do to address their hearing needs. Encourage your loved one to schedule a consultation and hearing exam with us at Custom Hearing Solutions. The process is painless and noninvasive, and will be the first step to help on the road to better hearing. Ensure your loved one that they are not alone – and that you will be with them every step of the way!
Custom Hearing Solutions
You don't have to live with untreated hearing loss. Reach out to us today. Our friendly team looks forward to hearing from you.