While hearing loss is a frustrating development—not only for the person who has it, but for friends and family, alike—it is also an invisible disability. The fact that no one can see hearing loss makes it easier to deny, and denial is an all-too-common phase of a person’s journey toward hearing care.
Hearing loss is also a progressive ailment, often developing so slowly that a person may not even realize they have it—until someone else points it out! It’s very common for a spouse or family member to bring up the idea that a person has hearing loss before they realize it, themself.
It’s common for spouses, family members, and close friends to want to help a person who is new to hearing loss. We want them to see their way clear toward treatment, and start wearing hearing aids so we can interact freely and easily with them, once again. If you’re trying to encourage a loved one to do something about their hearing loss and schedule a hearing test, follow the tips below to help you have a more productive conversation!
Try to avoid having an argument in the heat of a frustrating moment. While another person’s treatable hearing loss can be frustrating, you don’t want to frame the idea of getting hearing aids as a battle over who is right and who is wrong. Nor do you want to stage a “set-up,” where you demonstrate your loved one’s hearing loss to them. Plan for a quiet, productive conversation—one in which you both feel comfortable to talk about how your loved one’s hearing loss has changed your lives.
Schedule a time for a conversation, and plan to have it in a quiet place. This might be at home, or a quiet restaurant or cafe. Make sure there are minimal distractions and little-or-no background noise. The area should also be well-lit, and you should be seated closely enough to one another to make hearing as easy as possible, and in such a way that your loved one can clearly see your face. Avoid talking with your mouth full, chewing gum, or covering your mouth while you speak. Those with hearing loss may need to read lips to help them understand what you’re saying.
Do Some Research
While the goal should not be to inundate your loved one with facts about the dangers that hearing loss can pose to health and well-being, it may be useful to have a few facts at hand. For example, many people wish to avoid getting hearing aids until their hearing becomes “really bad.” Unfortunately, even mild hearing loss brings a host of changes that can decrease a person’s quality of life. It’s also harder to adjust to hearing aids when hearing loss is worse, and changes can occur in the brain that make it difficult to understand speech even when it is heard clearly.
You can also talk about the great advances that have been made in hearing aid technology over the past decade. Hearing aids are now available in rechargeable options. They are sleek, stylish, and connect wirelessly to smartphones and other devices to stream phone calls and media content, just like a set of earbuds. Hearing aids are available in a variety of sizes and styles to match every hearing loss and lifestyle, so your loved one will be able to find a set of hearing aids that will help them to live the life they want to live, rather than having to live their life around their hearing loss.
Listen More than Talk
Tell your loved one about some experiences where you’ve noticed them struggling to hear. Let them know that it is hard for you, too, for them to have trouble communicating. Then, ask them how they feel about it. Let them talk at length, without interrupting. This may be the first opportunity they’ve had to speak openly about how hearing loss is changing their life. They may be frightened, angry, or depressed about it. It is common for people to go through a kind of grieving when hearing loss enters the picture. So be sure to give them ample opportunity to say what they may have to say.
You might offer to drive your loved one to the hearing care center, and attend their hearing test with them. There can be a lot of new information to take in after a hearing test, and two heads will remember more than one! Most importantly, offer your support to your loved one throughout their journey toward better hearing—let them know they don’t have to go it alone!
If you or a loved one is ready for hearing aids, schedule an appointment for a hearing test today and find out how hearing loss treatment can improve your life!