Someone you love has hearing loss, now what should you do? It’s not an easy subject to talk about because often those who are gradually losing their hearing don’t realize it. Ignoring this difficult problem is not helpful for anyone involved. Your family member’s life will be improved by the choices you make now so don’t wait to find a way to talk about it. Consider these tips to help get you there.
Learn More so You Can Explain it Better
Outlining the problem is easier if you first understand it. The risks of hearing loss become greater as people grow older. About one in every three people suffer from some amount of hearing reduction by the time they are 74 and greater than half have it after they reach the age of 75.
The scientific term for this form of ear damage is presbycusis. The effect is gradual and usually affects both ears equally. Chances are this person began losing some hearing years before anybody noticed.
There are many reasons why presbycusis occurs. Basically, many years 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 generated by these little hair cells. The brain gets the message and translates them into what you know as sound. Those hairs are an essential factor of hearing.
The following chronic illnesses can also play a role:
- Cardiovascular disease
- High blood pressure
Each one can injure the ear and reduce hearing.
Set a Date
The place where you choose to have a discussion with your loved one is just as important as what you say. The best way to go is to set something up so the two of you can meet and talk. You don’t want to be interrupted so select a private location. Bringing literature on the subject is also very helpful. For instance, the doctor might have a brochure that clarifies presbycusis.
Let’s Discuss the Whys
Expect this person to be a little defensive. Loss of hearing is a sensitive subject because it is related to getting old. It’s difficult to accept that you are growing older. The elderly struggle to stay in control of their everyday lives and they may believe 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 while having conversations, too. Don’t make it sound like you’re complaining, keep it casual. Be patient and understanding as you put everything into perspective.
Be Prepared to Listen
Be prepared to sit back and listen once you have said what needs to be said. Your family member might have noticed some changes and may have other worries but doesn’t know what to do. Ask questions that will encourage this person to continue talking about their experience to help make it real to them.
Talk About the Support System
Getting past the fear that comes with hearing loss is going to be the biggest challenge. Many people don’t understand that they have friends and family on their side and feel alone with their problem. Remind them of how other family members have found a way to cope with the same problem.
The most crucial part of this talk is going to be what should be done next. Make your loved one aware 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 all shapes and sizes. If you can bring a tablet, use a computer or have some brochures that show the different devices which are now available.
Seeing a doctor is the first step. Some hearing loss is temporary. Rule out earwax build up or medication side effects that might be causing your issue by getting an ear exam. Then the doctor can set up a hearing test, and you can go from there.