As Helen Keller once said, “Blindness separates people from things; deafness separates people from people.” Because untreated hearing loss often leads to breakdowns in communication and difficulties with speech recognition, there may be a strain in our most important relationships.
Hearing loss may be a difficult subject to broach with a loved one. Even though it is the third most common medical condition in the United States – affecting people of all ages – there is still some taboo surrounding it, especially when it comes to the aging process. On the other side, people who experience hearing loss may not be aware of it, because it happens gradually. Many people learn to adjust their behavior or avoid situations, or even blame others for “mumbling” rather than recognizing that they might have experienced changes in their hearing abilities.
With our loved ones, it may fall on us to talk to them about seeking treatment for a hearing loss. Here, we provide some tips for discussing this sensitive topic.
Research on Hearing Loss
With the internet at your fingertips, there are many resources available to learn more about the intricacies of hearing loss. National organizations such as the Hearing Loss Association of America and the American Speech Language Hearing Association provide copious amounts of information on the signs of hearing loss, the benefits of treating hearing loss, and the treatment options available.
Before sitting down with a loved one to discuss hearing loss, get in the know about the ins and outs of hearing loss. Having this research on hand could help encourage your loved one to take action.
Find a Quiet, Private Space
It’s important to keep in mind that hearing loss makes communication difficult. For many with untreated hearing loss, speech recognition is a great challenge, especially when conversations happen in noisy environments.
When sitting down with a loved one to discuss hearing loss, find a quiet place free of music or background noise. Even more, because it may be a sensitive subject, you may want to find a private space to have the discussion.
Focus on Your Experience with Your Loved One
It’s easy for people to get defensive or offended when it comes to a topic like hearing loss. For this reason, focus on your experiences with your loved one – rather than pointing out the changes in their behavior.
You may have grown frustrated from having to repeat yourself over and over again. You may feel that the loud volumes on the TV or the radio are harming your own hearing and that causes you some concern. In intimate relationships, a breakdown in communication could also cause an emotional rift. Talk about your own feelings about the state of your relationship and what can be done to improve the situation. Illustrating to your loved one how hearing loss affects you could be an impetus for them to take action.
Listen & Ask Questions
After you’ve said your part, give your loved one the opportunity to respond and share their own experiences. Chances are, they may have noticed the changes in their hearing and they may have frustrations of their own to vent. According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, people wait an average of seven years from the time they first notice changes in their hearing abilities before seeking treatment.
Untreated hearing loss comes with a number of issues, such as an increased risk for anxiety, stress, depression, and fatigue. When the brain works overtime to struggle to hear and make sense of sound and communication, it does take a physical toll. Ask your loved one open-ended questions that could provide you with more information on their own experiences.
Encourage Your Loved One to Take a Hearing Test
When it comes to addressing hearing loss, the most important first step is to take a hearing test. Hearing tests may seem daunting, but they are a painless and quick procedure that requires very little on their part. At the Hearing Consultants, we offer comprehensive hearing tests to gauge the abilities of your loved one’s hearing.
Hearing test results are recorded in an audiogram, which gives a visual representation of hearing abilities by ear. If a hearing loss is detected, we’ll work with you to formulate the next steps. Offer your loved one support through this process and assure them that they do not have to go through it alone.
Visit Us at the Hearing Consultants
At the Hearing Consultants, we believe in reconnecting people to their loved ones and the sounds they love. To schedule a comprehensive hearing test and consultation, get in touch with our team today.