What is the best thing to do when you realize that someone you love is suffering from hearing loss? Hearing loss commonly goes undetected by those who suffer from it and that makes it much more difficult to bring up. Ignoring this frustrating problem is not helpful for anyone involved. Your loved one’s life will be bettered by the choices you make now so don’t wait to find a way to talk about it. To help get you there, consider these suggestions.
Do the Research
You should recognize the problem first before you are able to explain it. The risks of hearing loss become greater as people get older. About one in every three people suffer from some degree of hearing loss by the time they reach the age of 74 and greater than half suffer from it after the age of 75.
This type of ear damage is called presbycusis. It generally happens in both ears equally, and the effect is gradual. This hearing loss probably started years before it was noticed.
There are many reasons presbycusis happens. The most basic explanation for age-related hearing loss is that years of sound eventually breaks down delicate mechanisms of the ear, specifically the tiny hair cells. Electrical signals are produced that go to the brain. The brain gets the signals and translates them into what you know as sound. Hearing is not possible without those little hairs.
The following chronic illnesses can also play a role:
- High blood pressure
- Cardiovascular disease
All of these can harm the ear and reduce hearing.
Set a Date
What you say to your loved one is important however it’s also important where you have the conversation. Scheduling something so you can have a conversation is your best bet. You don’t want to be interrupted so select a quiet spot. If you have any written material on the subject, you should also bring that. For instance, the doctor might have a brochure that explains presbycusis.
Talk About the Whys
Expect this person to be a little defensive. Loss of hearing is a sensitive subject because it is associated with aging. Getting older is a tough thing to accept. Older people fight to stay in control of their daily lives and they might think poor hearing challenges that freedom.
You will have to tell them how you know they have hearing loss and you will have to be specific.
They will have to be reminded how often they say “what did you say?” when people are talking to them. Keep the discussion casual and don’t make it sound like you are stressing. Be patient and sympathetic as you put everything into perspective.
Now it’s Time to Listen
After you have said what needs to be said, be prepared to settle-back and listen. Your family member may share concerns or say they have recognized some changes but didn’t know what they should do. Ask questions that will motivate this person to keep talking about their experience to help make it real to them.
Let Them Know They Have a Support System
Hearing loss comes along with a lot of fear and that might be tough to get past. Many people feel on their own with their condition and don’t recognize they have family and friends on the other side. Talk about others in the family who have had similar experiences and how they found ways to live with hearing loss.
Be Prepared to Offer Solutions
The most crucial part of this discussion is going to be what should be done next. Let your loved one know that hearing loss is not the end of the world. There are plenty of tools available to help, such as hearing aids. Much more sleek and modern hearing aids are currently available. 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 different devices which are now available.
Going to the doctor is the first step. Not all hearing loss is permanent. Have an ear examination to rule out things like ear wax build up and medication that may be causing the problem. A hearing exam can then be set up and you will know for sure.