How can I support a loved one with hearing loss
Many people do not like to talk about or admit to having a problem hearing. In fact, it takes on average seven years for someone with hearing loss to take action and seek treatment. That’s seven years of special moments avoided, conversations misheard and opportunities lost.
If your loved one falls into this category, it’s easy to become frustrated. You might be stuck repeating yourself, becoming their ‘ears’, or trying to convince them to have a hearing check. This person might be in denial about their hearing loss, and the impact it’s having on their lives and those around them. They might feel like there is stigma attached to wearing hearing aids, but as it turns out, a tiny hearing aid is much less noticeable than untreated hearing loss!
If you’re currently on the journey of addressing hearing loss with a loved one, here are some tips which might help make the road a little less bumpy.
Initiate the discussion
Be aware that denial is a common response to raising a potential hearing loss. Many people also tend to project the problem onto others e.g. “everyone is mumbling”, or “they were talking too fast”. Understand that you may be met with objections, but remaining patient and kind is key to your interaction.
Choose an appropriate time and place to have this sensitive conversation. Somewhere quiet without background noise will ensure they can hear you. Make sure you’re facing the person so your lips and facial cues can help them follow what you are saying.
Of course, one way to convince your loved one to have a hearing test is that you’ll get off their case if there is nothing wrong!
Explain the symptoms, signs and impact
Help your loved one recognise the signs of hearing loss, and how they apply to him or her. Gently outline the specific impacts on family life or friendships e.g. “You must miss watching the grandkids at their school plays” or “You don’t enjoy going out to your favourite restaurants like you used to”. Use ‘I’ statements to let them know how you personally feel, e.g. “I miss being able to pick up the phone and ask your advice.”
Once they see how others are impacted, he or she might be more open to seeking help.
Offer your support the whole way
Your loved one might feel more comfortable if you take an online hearing test together. That way you both get an indicative picture of whether you could benefit from seeing a hearing health professional.
If the results recommend that he or she should come into the clinic for a comprehensive hearing check, offer to go along as their support person.
Two heads are better than one when it comes to asking all the questions you’d like to know, and remembering all the information for later.
Ready to take the next step?
If your loved one is ready to begin their journey back to better hearing and a happier life, well done! It’s only going to be up from here and one day they’ll probably thank you for your support. Come and meet our friendly team in your local clinic. Book an appointment online here or call us on 1300 015 227.