Communication is at the heart of all relationships. We relate to one another through conversations, our shared interests come alive through these moments. Friendships are built, romantic relationships are forged, and community is established through the words we speak and the connections we make. For those of us who have loved ones who are experiencing hearing loss, the breakdown in communication could lead to challenges, frustrations, and rifts in those very relationships that we’ve established.
May it be due to social stigmas that exist in society to the avoidance of talking about aging and health decline to not wanting to reveal an illness or weakness, the topic of hearing loss is a sensitive one. Despite these hesitations, hearing loss is a real health concern and is one that needs to be highlighted as we grow older. In the U.S. alone, close to 48 million people experience some form of hearing loss and this number is much more prevalent among adults over the age of 65. 24% of people over the age of 65 face hearing loss and that number jumps to 50% in those 75 years or older.
If you suspect that your loved one is experiencing hearing loss, it is crucial to encourage them to seek sooner rather than later. Studies have shown that it takes someone on average seven years from the moment they experience hearing loss to seek treatment. Going untreated for that long can lead to other health concerns. The following are tips on how to approach the topic of hearing loss with your loved one.
Do Your Research on Hearing Loss
Before you decide to jump in and talk to your loved one about their hearing loss, it is important that you do research. Since hearing loss is such a sensitive topic to begin with, the more you know about the issue, the better. Several great resources for understanding hearing loss can be found through the American Speech Hearing Language Association and the Hearing Loss Association of America. Both outline the signs and symptoms of hearing loss and provide knowledge on the detrimental effects of untreated hearing loss. They also highlight the benefits that treatment provides. Researching this information and equipping yourself with the knowledge will ease the difficulty in talking about hearing loss with your loved one.
The Right Time and Place Matters
To engage in such a sensitive topic as hearing loss, it is important to choose the right time and place to do it. You may immediately want to address hearing loss in the moment when things are misinterpreted or misunderstood, but it is better to wait, assess, and plan on when and where to conduct such a conversation. Keeping in mind that hearing loss impacts one’s speech recognition abilities, it is a good idea to choose a private, quiet place to talk. Additionally, consider having a one-on-one conversation rather than having it in a large group. The best type of environment for people with hearing loss to engage you on this topic is one that is comfortable, safe, and quiet.
Listen to What They Have to Share
More likely than not, if you’ve noticed hearing loss patterns, your loved one who is experiencing it themselves may have already noticed these changes to their hearing ability. That is why as important it is to share your concerns and viewpoints on the issue, listening is key. Once you’ve shared your worries, ask your loved one open-ended questions and provide them the space to discuss their point of view. They may share with you something that you may not have even thought about or even how it impacts them mentally and emotionally to go through declined hearing. Listening is important as it provides the person with hearing loss to voice their concerns and needs, and may provide a path towards further support.
Talk about How Treatment Helps
Through your research, you will learn that the sooner you treat hearing loss, the better. You’ll learn that treating hearing loss improves communication with loved ones, decreases social isolation, supports better cognitive health, and reduces the risk of for potential falls. Treatment provides someone with hearing loss a world filled with more connectivity, joy, and connection and less stress and anxiety. Use this time to share what you’ve learned with your loved one about the benefits of treating hearing loss.
Visit Us at Elevate Audiology
After the long and hard discussion about hearing loss is over and your loved one is open to taking a hearing test, our team at Elevate Audiology is here to assist you. When the time is right, reach out to us and schedule an appointment. We provide comprehensive hearing tests and hearing aid fittings, and our team is here to support you and your family on the journey to better hearing.