How Should You Approach a Loved One About Their Hearing Loss?

Husband talking to his wife about her hearing loss and how to get help.

A person you love has hearing loss, now what should you do? Hearing loss frequently goes overlooked by those who have it and that makes it much more difficult to bring up. No one is helped by disregarding this frustrating problem. The things you do now will better the lives of your parent, spouse, sibling or friend and it starts with discovering a way to talk about it. Think about these tips to help get you there.

Do the Research

Outlining the issue is much easier if you first understand it. The risks of hearing loss become greater as people get older. About one in every three people suffer from some degree of hearing loss by the time they reach the age of 74 and more than half have it after they reach the age of 75.

The technical term for this form of ear damage is presbycusis. The effect is gradual and usually affects both ears equally. This hearing loss most likely started years before it was noticed.

There are numerous reasons presbycusis happens. Simply put, decades of hearing sound eventually breaks down the delicate mechanism of the inner ear, particularly the tiny hair cells. The brain gets electrical signals that are created by these little hair cells. The brain gets the message and translates them into what you know as sound. Hearing is impossible without those little hairs.

The following chronic illnesses can also play a role:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular disease

Hearing is reduced and the ear can be hurt by all of these.

Make a Date

It’s not only important what you say but also where you decide to say it. The best way to go is to schedule something so the two of you can get together and have a talk. Find a setting that is quiet and guarantees you won’t be disturbed. Bring along whatever literature you can on the topic too. Presbycusis may be explained in a brochure that you can get from a doctor, for example.

Let’s Discuss the Whys

Expect this person will be a little defensive. Loss of hearing is a delicate subject because it is associated with getting old. Growing older is a difficult thing to acknowledge. Poor hearing might challenge the elderly’s idea that they are in control of their day-to-day lives.

You will have to tell them why you think they have hearing loss and you will need to be specific.

Mention that you need to keep repeating yourself while having conversations, too. Don’t make it sound like you’re complaining, keep it casual. Be patient and sympathetic as you put everything into perspective.

Now it’s Time to Listen

After you have said what needs to be said, be ready to settle-back and listen. Your family member might express concerns or say they have noticed some changes but were unsure what they should do. To help them come to a realization concerning their hearing loss, ask questions which motivate them to keep talking.

Let Them Know They Have a Support System

The biggest challenge is going to be going beyond the fear that comes with hearing loss. Many people don’t understand that they have family and friends on their side and feel alone with their condition. Talk to them about others in the family that have had similar experiences and how they found ways to live with hearing loss.

Come Armed With Solutions

What to do next will be the most crucial part of the discussion. 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 many shapes and sizes. Show them some literature on a computer or brochure detailing the different devices that are available.

Finally, recommend that the first place to start is at the doctor’s office. Some hearing loss is temporary. Rule out earwax build up or medication side effects that could be causing your problem by getting an ear exam. A hearing exam can then be set up and you will know for sure.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.