Someone you love has hearing loss, now what? It’s not an easy subject to talk about because often those who are gradually losing their hearing don’t recognize it. Ignoring this frustrating issue 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 discuss it. To help get you there, consider these guidelines.
If You Want to be Able to Explain it Better, do The Research
Discussing the issue is much less difficult if you first understand it. As people get older, the chances of loss of hearing increase for them. About one in every three people have some amount of hearing loss by the time they reach the age of 74 and greater than half have it after they reach the age of 75.
The medical term for this type of ear damage is presbycusis. The effect is gradual and generally affects both ears similarly. Most likely this person began losing some hearing years before anyone noticed.
There are numerous reasons why presbycusis occurs. Simply put, years of hearing sound eventually breaks down the delicate mechanism of the inner ear, particularly the tiny hair cells. Electrical signals are created which go to the brain. What you know as sound is actually a message that is received and then translated by the brain. Without those hair cells, hearing is not possible.
Chronic illnesses can play a role, as well, such as:
- High blood pressure
- Cardiovascular disease
Each one can injure the ear and impair the hearing.
Set a Date
What you say to your loved one is important however it’s equally important where you have the conversation. Scheduling something so you can have a conversation is your best bet. It’s important not to be interrupted so pick a private place. If you have any literature on the subject, you should bring that also. Presbycusis might be explained in a brochure that you can obtain from a doctor, for example.
Let’s Discuss the Whys
The reaction you can expect right away is for the person to be defensive. Hearing loss is a sensitive subject because it is related to aging. Growing older is a difficult thing to acknowledge. 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 need to be specific.
Remind them how often they ask you and others to repeat what they said. Keep the conversation casual and don’t make it sound like you are complaining. Be patient and sympathetic as you put everything into perspective.
Be Prepared to Listen
Be prepared to sit back and listen after you have said what needs to be said. Your family member might have noticed some changes and may have other concern but doesn’t know what to 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
Getting past the fear that comes with hearing loss is going to be the greatest challenge. Many people feel alone with their problem and don’t realize they have family and friends on the other side. Talk to them about others in the family that have had similar experiences and how they found ways to live with hearing loss.
Be Prepared to Offer Solutions
The most important part of this discussion is going to be what to do next. Hearing loss is not the end of the world so let your loved one know that. There are a lot of available tools including hearing aids which can be helpful. Much more sleek and modern hearing aids are currently available. They come with features that improve the quality of life and come in all shapes and sizes. If possible bring a tablet, use a computer or have some brochures that show the various devices which are now available.
Going to the doctor is the first step. Some hearing loss is temporary. Have an ear exam and rule out things such as ear wax build up and medication that might be causing the issue. A hearing exam can then be set up and you will know for sure.