Someone you love has hearing loss, now what? It’s not an easy thing to talk about because often those who are gradually losing their hearing don’t recognize it. It’s a frustrating issue for everyone and ignoring it isn’t the answer. The things you do now will improve the lives of your parent, spouse, sibling or friend and it starts with finding a way to talk about it. Consider these guidelines to help get you there.
Do the Research
Firstly, you should recognize what is going on yourself so you can explain it. The risks of hearing loss become greater as people get older. About one person out of every three suffer from some level of hearing loss by the time they reach the age of 74 and greater than half suffer from it after they reach the age of 75.
The scientific name for this type of ear damage is presbycusis. The effect is gradual and generally affects both ears equally. It’s likely that this person began losing some hearing years before anybody recognized it.
There are many reasons why presbycusis occurs. Basically, decades of hearing sound eventually breaks down the fragile mechanism of the inner ear, particularly the tiny hair cells. The brain gets electrical signals that are generated by these little hair cells. The brain gets the signals and translates them into what you know as sound. Hearing is impossible without those little hairs.
Chronic sicknesses can play a role, as well, such as:
- Cardiovascular disease
- High blood pressure
All of these can injure the ear and impair the hearing.
Set a Date
It’s not only important what you say but also where you decide to say it. The best option is to set something up so you both can get together and have a talk. To ensure you won’t be disturbed, pick a quiet spot. If you have any literature on the topic, you should also bring that. For instance, the doctor may have a brochure that explains presbycusis.
Talk About the Whys
Expect this person will be a little defensive. Hearing loss is a delicate subject because it is associated with aging. It’s hard to acknowledge that you are growing older. Poor hearing may challenge the elderly’s belief that they are in control of their daily lives.
Be ready to provide particulars as to how you know they have some hearing problems.
Remind them how often they ask you and others to repeat what they said. Keep the discussion casual and don’t make it sound like you are stressing. As you understand and put everything into perspective, be patient.
Sit Back and Listen
After you have said what needs to be said, be ready to settle-back and listen. Your family member might have noticed some changes and could have other concern but doesn’t know what they should do. So that you can help them come to a realization concerning their hearing loss, ask questions that encourage them to keep talking.
Let Them Know They Have a Support System
The biggest obstacle is going to be getting past the fear that comes with hearing loss. Many people don’t recognize that they have friends and family on their side and feel isolated with their problem. Talk about others in the family who have had similar experiences and how they discovered ways to live with hearing loss.
What to do next is going to be the most crucial part of the discussion. Make your loved one aware that hearing loss isn’t the end of the world. There are a lot of available tools including hearing aids which can be helpful. Today’s hearing aids are modern and sleek. They come in all sizes and shapes and with features that improve the quality of life. If possible bring a tablet, use a computer or have some brochures that show the various devices that are now available.
Finally, recommend that the first place to begin is at the doctor’s office. Some hearing loss goes away. Rule out earwax build up or medication side effects that could be causing your problem by getting an ear examination. Then the doctor can set up a hearing test, and you can go from there.