How To Talk About Hearing Loss With Your Loved Ones
A loved one’s hearing loss can a difficult subject to talk about. As untreated hearing loss can be a sensitive topic for those who aren’t ready to acknowledge that they may have hearing loss, it is essential that you are careful as you approach your loved one about their hearing loss.
To assist with your conversation, the audiologist at Echo Hearing Center has some recommendations that may help facilitate the discussion between you and your loved one.
Carefully Choose The Right Time And Place To Talk
Hearing loss is often considered a private problem by those who suffer from hearing loss. So, it is likely that your loved one would feel embarrassed and defensive if you brought the matter up in a public or social setting. Instead of doing that, set up an appropriate time and place where your loved one can feel at ease and open up the discussion on hearing loss.
Choosing a quiet setting, whether it’s a peaceful spot in your backyard or a quiet room in your home, is important. As those with hearing loss often struggle with hearing in areas where there is a lot of noise pollution, you will want to choose an area with little ambient noise.
Also, it is good to know your loved one’s schedule. Since many people with hearing loss are elderly and tend to keep early hours, it may be best to schedule the conversation for late morning or the afternoon.
Approach With Patience And Love
If you want to have a successful conversation about hearing loss with your loved one, it is critical that you approach them with love and patience. It can be tempting to snap at a loved one, particularly when they deny any hearing difficulty. But one sharp answer can effectively end the conversation, and once it is shut down, you may find it difficult to reopen for a long time.
Instead, expect the denial to come when you start talking about how you’ve noticed that your loved one has been struggling to hear. That way, you can remain patient. Express that you love them, then point to a few clear examples where you noticed them struggling to hear, such as having the TV up to a very loud volume.
Be gentle as you share these examples, as it will be easier for your loved one to open up about their hearing difficulties if they don’t feel like you are mocking them or feeling frustrated.
Expect That Your Loved One Suspects Hearing Loss
Often, when people come to see our audiologist for a hearing evaluation and hearing aids, they have known they have had hearing issues for a long time.
This knowledge may surprise you since you may expect that if your loved one knew, they would go take care of the problem. But it can be hard for people to acknowledge that their hearing loss and is easier to just put off a hearing test.
Listen To Their Concerns And Fears
As you discuss the hearing loss with your loved one, they will likely bring up their concerns and fears which are holding them back from taking care of their hearing loss. One of the big concerns is hearing aids.
Many people express that they are concerned that hearing aids will make them look old or be uncomfortable. It is important that you not only listen, but you also validate your loved one’s concerns. An example of this may sound like this:
Loved one – “Hearing aids are for old people, and I’m not that old yet.”
You – “I can understand how you feel; no one wants to feel old before their time. There should be hearing aids that are pretty discrete. That way, no one has to know about your hearing loss.”
Avoid using the word “but” and cutting off your loved one before they are finished talking, as doing these things can make your loved one feel invalidated and unheard.
Ways To Encourage A Hearing Evaluation
Part of your discussion about hearing loss with your loved one should also include a visit to a hearing clinic for an in-depth hearing evaluation. Some of the ways you can help a loved one overcome their hesitation to going in for a hearing test are:
- Read about what hearing tests and evaluations are together.
- Offer to go with them to their hearing evaluation.
- Promise to take notes and help them ask questions at the appointment.
By talking to your loved one about hearing loss and offering your support, you can help your loved one in managing their hearing loss and help them reconnect with the sounds they have been missing the most.