People react to age-related hearing loss in a variety of ways. However, an extremely common initial reaction to noticing a decline in hearing health is denial that there is a problem. This can bring a modicum of comfort in the short term and relieves any responsibility of taking direct action to address hearing loss, which can feel overwhelming or even embarrassing.
And while we can anticipate that a loved one might avoid addressing their hearing health, it can still feel pretty frustrating. While it may require patience, there are ways to guide the people you love into confronting hearing loss.
Recognize the signs
The first signs of hearing loss can be very subtle. Most often, people lose their ability to hear high frequency sounds and this is most observable in conversation with others. Someone with hearing loss might have trouble understanding what the people around them are saying. To someone with hearing loss, it could seem that people are mumbling their words. You may become aware of this behavior with a loved one if they are constantly asking you to repeat yourself, or to speak more clearly. Another sign of hearing loss in a loved one is if their television or radio volumes become blaringly loud.
Experiencing hearing loss can be an incredibly isolating circumstance for your loved one and might require additional care and compassion from you.
Introduce the idea objectively
Instead of abruptly diagnosing a loved one’s hearing loss, you might instead gently introduce the topic of hearing loss to them. Perhaps share an instance in your own life where you’ve had trouble hearing to present the idea that hearing loss is completely normal and without introducing any guilt or shame into the conversation. Many people over the age of 65 experience hearing loss. In fact, it’s a condition that can affect folks of any age. According to the National Institutes of Health, 13% of American older than 12 experience some type of hearing loss in both ears.
Age-related hearing loss in itself is a very natural occurrence, and hearing loss can be intensified or caused by noise exposure.
Hear their thoughts about hearing loss
Hearing loss can be a very sensitive topic in older folks, because of old-fashioned ideas about aging. There also might be some sense of mourning over the decline of a beloved sense. While you may view hearing loss as a simple medical matter, your loved one’s emotional health might be impacted by their condition. This can cause evasiveness or even defensiveness around conversations addressing the problem.
When you introduce the topic, be prepared to listen to their thoughts on the matter. Asking questions and respecting their viewpoint could even dispel some of their resistance.
Be a reassuring presence
If the conversation ever becomes heated, remember that you can’t ever force someone to do something they’re not ready for. Instead, pushing aggressively for a hearing intervention may even make your loved one double down on resistance. If things become contentious, drop the subject and pick it up gently at another time. It will require patience, but the more you can introduce the topic of hearing loss calmly and with positive energy, the more likely they’ll eventually come around.
Remind your loved one that hearing loss can be successfully addressed with trained professionals. There are so many resources available for people experiencing hearing loss, from treatment to support groups. Many people live really full and active lives with varying degrees of hearing loss, and your loved one can, too!
Become a part of their team
It can be daunting to imagine seeking help for hearing loss alone. Try and make it into a group activity, enlisting other friends or family members to sign up for a hearing test, too. Offer to make an appointment with an audiologist and pledge to support them throughout the process. This might mean accompanying your loved one to their hearing test appointment and subsequent treatment with an audiologist.
Get guidance from a trained professional
Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a hearing test. Our team will be with you and your loved one every step of the way toward a future with healthier hearing!