Talking to Your Loved One about Hearing Loss

In Family & Relationships, Hearing Loss by Bary E. Williams Au.D.

How well we hear is deeply connected to our quality of life and our ability to communicate. It’s a critical component of our overall wellness and cognitive health. However, because hearing loss often happens gradually, the person experiencing the difficulty hearing may develop a habit of ignoring or dismissing the problems they notice. Often it takes a serious and caring conversation with a loved one for a person to seek help for hearing loss.

If you’ve noticed that someone close to you is struggling to hear, or frequently missing parts of speech and sound, it may be time to talk with them about their hearing. Reaching out in this way may seem difficult, but with the right approach you could help make a life-changing difference in their life.


Have a Planned, Private Conversation

Hearing loss, especially unaddressed hearing loss, can be a sensitive topic for many people. Confronting a hearing issue may feel intimidating and deeply personal, so you’ll want to have a private and planned conversation with your loved one, rather than a spontaneous or public discussion.

Choose somewhere comfortable and quiet to meet up. Avoid places with distracting noises to help keep the conversation focused- and to be respectful of your loved one’s hearing challenges. Calm, indoor spaces will probably work best. Sit down with them and talk about what you’ve noticed and why you’re concerned.

It is very likely they will have noticed some of the same things you have, but have fallen into the habit of downplaying the signs they should have a hearing exam. It takes most people around seven years from the time they first notice a hearing issue until they get a hearing test. However, the national average is no excuse for people to ignore the signs of hearing loss.


Listen To Their Experience

You’ve probably initiated this conversation because you’ve noticed several signs in your loved one’s behavior that they are struggling with their hearing. Sharing your observations of the situation may help them come to terms with their hearing issues, but it’s just as important to draw them out about their own experience.

Whether your loved one is ready to open up about their hearing, or if they insist they don’t notice anything serious, it’s important to hear what their perspective is. Ask questions about how they hear in different situations and if hearing issues are changing their social patterns. Always respond with care an empathy, and have a discussion about what may be going on with their hearing and what some possible courses of action are.


Be Caring and Follow Through

Throughout the conversation, its important to emphasize how simple the first step should be – setting up a hearing test to get a medical perspective on their hearing. If your loved one is nervous, stubborn, angry or otherwise reluctant about taking initiative, respond with understanding but also with facts. If hearing loss is present, it is easier to treat the earlier it is addressed. Putting off a hearing exam now makes it more difficult to rehabilitate damaged hearing later.

Before you begin talking with your loved one, do some research about hearing loss and hearing specialists in your area. Outline a simple plan of action, to help your loved one set up an appointment for a hearing exam. A hearing exam is the best way to determine if there is hearing impairment present, as well as possible causes and treatments for any issues.

Untreated hearing loss can have a ripple effect on overall health, so regular hearing exams should become a normal part of our medical care, especially as we age. Leaving hearing issues untreated is like punishing yourself – cheating yourself out of experiences and conversations with the people and things you love the most. Let your loved one know that you care about them and that being able to communicate well with them is important to you.

Hopefully your loved one is receptive to what you have told them. If they would like assistance, help them set up an appointment with your local hearing specialist. If you live in the Phoenix area, get in touch with us at Exceptional Hearing Care to set up an initial exam. After the appointment, check in with your loved one about how it went and what their next steps are going to be. Follow up with your loved one and offer support.

Bary E. Williams Au.D.
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