A person you love has hearing loss, now what should you do? It’s not an easy thing to talk about because commonly those who are gradually losing their hearing don’t recognize it. It’s a frustrating issue for the whole family and ignoring it isn’t the way to go. Find a way to talk about it with your loved one now so that their life can be enhanced. Think about these tips to help get you there.
Do the Research
Outlining the issue is much less difficult if you first understand it. As people get older, the risk of loss of hearing increase for them. About one person out of every three have some degree of hearing loss by the time they are 74 and greater than half suffer from it after the age of 75.
The scientific term for this type of ear damage is presbycusis. The effect is gradual and generally affects both ears equally. Most likely this person began losing some hearing years before anybody noticed.
There are lots of reasons presbycusis occurs. The simplest reason for age-related hearing loss is that many years of sound eventually breaks down delicate mechanisms of the ear, specifically the little hair cells. These hair cells produce electrical signals that go to the brain. What you know as sound is actually a signal that is received and then translated by the brain. Without those hair cells, hearing is impossible.
Chronic health problems can play a role, as well, such as:
- High blood pressure
- Cardiovascular disease
Hearing is impaired and the ear can be injured by all of these.
Set a Date
The place where you decide to talk to your loved one is equally as important as what you say. The best option is to schedule something so you both can meet and talk. It’s important not to be disturbed so select a private location. Bring with you any written material you can on the subject too. Presbycusis might be discussed in a brochure that you can obtain from a doctor, as an example.
Talk About the Whys
The response you can expect at first is for the person to be defensive. Hearing loss is a delicate topic because it is related to aging. Growing older is a hard thing to acknowledge. The elderly fight to stay in control of their daily lives and they may think poor hearing challenges that freedom.
Be ready to provide specifics as to how you know they have some hearing problems.
Mention that you need to keep repeating yourself during conversations, too. Don’t make it seem like you’re complaining, keep it casual. As you understand and put everything into perspective, be patient.
Be Prepared to Listen
After you have said what needs to be said, be prepared to sit back and listen. Your family member might have noticed some changes and may have other worries but doesn’t know what they should do. Ask questions that can encourage this person to keep talking about what they’re going through to help make it real to them.
Talk About the Support System
The biggest obstacle is going to be getting past the fear that comes with hearing loss. Many people feel alone with their problem and don’t realize they have family and friends on the other side. Talk about others in the family who have had similar experiences and how they discovered ways to live with hearing loss.
What to do next will be the most important part of the discussion. Hearing loss is not the end of the world so let your loved one know that. There are lots of tools available to help, such as hearing aids. 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. Show them some literature on a computer or brochure detailing the different devices that are available.
Lastly, recommend that the first place to begin is at the doctor’s office. Not all hearing loss lasts forever. Rule out earwax build up or medication side effects that could be causing your issue by getting an ear examination. A hearing exam can then be set up and you will know for sure.