If you realize someone you love has hearing loss 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 starts with finding a way to talk about it. To help get you there, consider these strategies.
Do the Research
Discussing the issue is much easier if you first understand it. The chances of hearing loss become greater as people get older. About one in every three people suffer from some level of hearing reduction by the time they are 74 and greater than half suffer from it after the age of 75.
Presbycusis is the medical name for this form of ear damage. It typically occurs in both ears equally, and the effect is gradual. Most likely this person started losing some hearing years before anybody noticed.
Persbyscusis occurs for several reasons. To put it simply, decades of hearing sound eventually breaks down the fragile mechanism of the inner ear, specifically the tiny hair cells. The brain gets electrical messages that are produced by these tiny hair cells. The brain receives the signals and translates them into what you know as sound. Without those hair cells, hearing is not possible.
The following chronic health problems can also play a role:
- High blood pressure
- Cardiovascular disease
Hearing is reduced and the ear can be injured by all of these.
Set a Date
Where you choose to have a talk with your loved one is equally as important as what you say. The best option is to schedule something so the two of you can meet and talk. Select a setting that is quiet and guarantees you won’t be interrupted. If you have any written material on the subject, you should bring that also. For example, the doctor might have a brochure that describes presbycusis.
Let’s Discuss the Whys
Expect this person will be a little defensive. Because it is related to aging, loss of hearing can be a sensitive matter. Getting older is a hard thing to acknowledge. Senior citizens struggle to stay in control of their daily lives and they might believe poor hearing challenges that freedom.
Be ready to provide specifics as to how you know they have some hearing problems.
Remind them how often they ask you and others to repeat what they said. Don’t make it sound like you’re complaining, keep it casual. Be patient and understanding as you put everything into perspective.
Now it’s Time to Listen
Be ready to sit back and listen after you have said what needs to be said. Your family member may express concerns or say they have recognized some changes but didn’t know what they should do. To help them come to a realization about their hearing loss, ask questions which encourage them to keep talking.
Let Them Know They Have a Support System
Getting past the fear that comes with hearing loss is going to be the toughest challenge. Many people don’t recognize that they have family and friends on their side and feel alone with their condition. Talk to them about others in the family who have had similar experiences and how they discovered ways to live with hearing loss.
What to do next is going to be the most significant part of the conversation. Let your loved one know that hearing loss isn’t the end of the world. There are a lot of available tools including hearing aids which can be helpful. Today’s hearing aids are modern and sleek. 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.
Lastly, recommend that the first place to begin is at the doctor’s office. Not all hearing loss lasts forever. Get an ear examination and rule out things like ear wax build up and medication that may be causing the problem. A hearing exam can then be set up and you will know for sure.