Discussing hearing loss with a loved one can be a challenge. Hearing loss is a sensitive topic, and many people feel embarrassment or shame admitting that they need help. Have you tried to talk to your spouse or parents and met with resistance or anger? Here are some tips to help you address this issue, and help your loved one seek treatment.
Don’t be surprised if your loved one is unwilling to talk about their hearing loss at first. They may not understand how bad their hearing impairment has become, or the impact it is having on their life, since hearing loss usually sneaks up gradually. When confronted, your loved one may become defensive and upset. It’s important to talk about hearing loss though, because early treatment and intervention is key to restoring hearing and fully adapting to hearing aids.
Knowing the signs of hearing loss will allow you to approach your loved one with confidence, and information is a great way to battle denial. Signs of hearing loss include asking people to repeat that they have said, and complaining that others have started mumbling. With hearing loss, understanding conversations is difficult, especially in noisy environments. Your loved one may withdraw from conversations in confusion. Those with hearing loss may not respond even when you call their name repeatedly, and often turn the TV up very loud. If your loved one is doing any of these things, they probably have hearing loss.
For your loved one, facing hearing loss can cause anxiety and fear of isolation. The words you use can make all the difference in letting them know they are safe and cared for.
Saying things like “I noticed you had trouble understanding that conversation” is an easy way to involve yourself in the situation, and keep it neutral. Never say “You didn’t understand”, since this can sound like an accusation, and your loved one might feel attacked instead of supported.
When discussing hearing loss, don’t focus on the negative aspects, but talk about the positives of treating hearing loss, such as being able to play with the grandkids again, or enjoying music more fully. Talk about others you know who have hearing aids, and what impact it had in their life. Show them what they will gain from treating hearing loss, like being fully present with family, or slowing the onset of dementia.
Remind your loved one that hearing loss isn’t just a comfort issue. Safety is a real concern. With untreated hearing loss, driving, walking, or even running errands can become dangerous. If they cannot hear fire or smoke alarms, even being home alone is unsafe!
Many people don’t realize how much hearing technology has improved in the last few years. Hearing aids aren’t clunky amplifiers that draw attention or are uncomfortable. The hearing aids of today are sleek, incredibly advanced devices with many programs that can provide custom treatment. Leave materials for them to read on their own, to educate themselves about hearing technology.