Hearing loss affects more than the person whose hearing is declining. It affects relationships and makes communication difficult.
It can be hard living with someone whose hearing is deteriorating. It’s frustrating to have to repeat yourself or to have the TV turned up far too loud because the other person can’t hear it otherwise.
It’s especially difficult when your loved one doesn’t acknowledge their hearing loss or won’t take the seemingly simple step of getting their hearing checked.
If that’s your situation, here are a few things you can do to support someone with hearing loss.
1. Understand what they’re (probably) feeling
Hearing loss affects far more than just hearing. The emotions of hearing loss can be intense and complicated. Though it may not make sense to you, your loved one may be feeling:
- In denial – they don’t want to accept that there’s a problem with their hearing so they blame others for mumbling
- Isolated – they may withdraw from normal activities like meeting friends in a cafe because it’s too hard to hear what’s being said
- Exhausted – straining to hear demands a lot of extra energy
- Angry – it seems unfair
- Afraid – they associate hearing loss with being old or missing the point and looking stupid (after all, that’s how many people with hearing loss are portrayed on TV).
Your loved one is not alone in those feelings. Many hearing aid users wait 10 years before they finally seek treatment for their hearing loss.
2. Change how you communicate with them
If your partner or parent is losing their hearing, then you’ve probably noticed that calling to them from another room just doesn’t work anymore.
Instead, when you need to speak with them, try to:
- Get their attention first so they’re looking at you – facial expressions communicate a lot and it’s easier to understand what you’re saying when they can see your mouth moving
- Turn off the TV or reduce other background noise
- Speak clearly without shouting (that distorts the words)
- Rephrase rather than repeat
- Write it down if necessary.
3. Address the hearing loss with them
Pick your moment and then raise the topic gently. You could say something like, ‘I’ve noticed that you seem to need the TV up quite high and you can’t hear me anymore if I call you from a different part of the house. I think it might be time to get your hearing checked.’
If they disagree, don’t push it. Wait a while then raise the topic again when the time seems right.
4. Counter fears with facts
Some fears may be holding them back from getting their hearing tested, including:
- Fear of getting older: Mention that a friend of a similar age recently got his first hearing aid and says it’s made a big difference
- Fear of an ugly hearing aid: Show them pictures of today’s ultramodern, sleek, inconspicuous hearing aids that use AI and communicate with your smartphone.
5. Remind them there is nothing to lose but a lot to potentially gain
Other fears, however, could help to motivate them to get their hearing tested. Those include the fear of:
- Missing out: With the right hearing aid, they can once more enjoy dining out with a big group of friends, going to birthday parties or gathering the family together for Christmas dinner.
- Declining performance at work: When their hearing loss is properly treated, they can foster strong working relationships and won’t miss anything said at meetings.
- Dementia: Untreated hearing loss doubles or triples the risk of dementia.
Your partner or parent has nothing to lose from a hearing test. It may well show that they have normal hearing. And if it shows that they have hearing difficulties, that’s an opportunity to get the right treatment plan to help them engage confidently with the world again. There really is no down side.
6. Encourage them to visit an audiologist like Active Audiology and look after their health
Audiologists are highly qualified health professionals, often trained to Masters degree level. A short hearing test can provide a great opportunity to determine if there is a hearing loss and its type and degree, which in turn can improve someone’s social life, professional life and relationships.
You can’t force someone to go for a hearing test. But you can make it easier for them by researching local audiology clinics and, if they agree to attend, scheduling the appointment and attending it with them.
How Active Audiology can help
Active Audiology is a 100% independent hearing provider in Melbourne. Free from commercial alliances with manufacturers, our audiologists are able to make unbiased recommendations for what’s most suitable for our clients.
Our goal is not to sell a hearing aid but to enable our clients to feel confident again to reconnect with their daily activities, family and friends. And if a hearing aid is required to do that, we offer a wide range of brands from all the reputable international manufacturers.
Book a hearing check today.
All information is general in nature.