Someone you love has hearing loss, now what should you do? It’s not an easy subject to bring up because frequently those who are gradually losing their hearing don’t recognize it. It’s a frustrating problem for the whole family and ignoring it isn’t the answer. The things you do now will better the lives of your parent, spouse, sibling or friend and it begins with finding a way to discuss it. Consider these guidelines to help get you there.
Learn More so You Can Explain it Better
First and foremost, you need to understand what is taking place yourself so you are able to explain it. As people get older, the risk of loss of hearing increase for them. About one person out of every three have some amount of hearing loss by the time they reach the age of 74 and greater than half have it after the age of 75.
This type of ear damage is technically known as presbycusis. The effect is gradual and normally affects both ears equally. Years before anyone noticed, it’s probable that this person started losing their hearing.
There are lots of reasons presbycusis occurs. Simply put, years of listening to sound eventually breaks down the fragile mechanism of the inner ear, especially the tiny hair cells. These hair cells create electrical signals that 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 impossible.
The impact of chronic illnesses like:
- Cardiovascular disease
- High blood pressure
Each one can injure the ear and reduce hearing.
Set a Date
What you say to your loved one is important but it’s also important where you have the discussion. Setting something up so you can have a conversation is your best bet. Pick a setting that is quiet and guarantees you won’t be interrupted. Bring with you any written material you can on the topic too. Presbycusis may be discussed in a brochure that you can obtain from a doctor, as an example.
Talk About the Whys
Expect this person to be a little defensive. Because it is associated with aging, hearing loss can be a delicate topic. Growing older is a difficult thing to accept. Senior citizens fight to stay in control of their everyday lives and they might think poor hearing challenges that freedom.
You will have to tell them why you think 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. Don’t make it seem like you’re complaining, keep it casual. As you comprehend and put everything into perspective, be patient.
Sit Back and Listen
After you have said what needs to be said, be prepared to settle-back and listen. Your family member might have noticed some changes and may have other worries but doesn’t know what to do. So that you can help them come to a realization about their hearing loss, ask questions that encourage them to keep talking.
Talk About the Support System
Hearing loss comes along with a lot of fear and that could be tough to get past. Many people don’t recognize that they have family and friends on their side and feel alone with their condition. Remind them of how other family members have found a way to cope with the same issue.
What to do next will be the most significant part of the discussion. 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. Today’s hearing aids are modern and sleek. They come with features that improve the quality of life and come in all shapes and sizes. If you can bring a tablet, use a computer or have some brochures that show the various devices that are now available.
Going to the doctor is the first step. Some hearing loss is temporary. Get an ear exam to rule out things such as ear wax build up and medication that might be causing the problem. After that the doctor can set up a hearing test, and you can go from there.