How to Know if Your Loved One Has a Hearing Loss
Our loved ones impact our lives in such significant ways, which makes it so much more difficult when they start to pull away. As you grow and watch your loved one’s age, you may notice them spending more time on their own. They may start avoiding new and shared experiences with other people. They may be coping with a hearing loss in their own unique way. It is normal to worry about the wellbeing and health of our loved ones as they age, and we often try support them in ageing well so that they can be healthy and happy for as long as possible. In order to do this, you need to know when something is wrong.
The “Huh’s” or “What’s”?
Hearing loss can be progressive and decline slowly over many years without us noticing. Often it may not be noticeable. It can be even more difficult for a person with hearing loss to notice their hearing is declining as a slow decline often means they can forget how their hearing used to be. Hearing loss can be difficult to recognise at first, but it is important for loved ones to identify the signs of hearing loss and encourage seeing a hearing specialist as soon as possible. Hearing loss can often lead to many family disagreements where one person claims “everyone is mumbling!”, there are a lot of “huhs?” or “what’s?” or there are arguments over the volume of the television. Hearing loss can be easily managed to reduce frustrations for all who are involved if it is addressed early. Therefore, it is essential you keep an eye out for when a hearing test is needed.
Avoiding Group Situations
One of the earliest signs of hearing loss is difficulties following conversations in noisy environments. This means that when there are a lot of people talking at the same time, large crowds or having conversations over noisy machinery like coffee machines can be difficult. Often people with hearing loss will ask for a lot of repetitions as they miss parts of the conversation, or they can be noticeably leaning in to hear you more clearly whilst using a lot of concentration and effort to hear. You might notice that your loved one starts to avoid group situations, or they nod along without really engaging in a conversation. This change may also lead to changes in behaviour as they can become frustrated with not hearing well, withdraw from social settings and feel guilty or angry about their ability to hear.
Additionally, you may notice that your loved one starts to forget things. Typically, we might think this is due to cognitive decline or disorders like dementia. However, it may just be because your loved one did not hear you in the first place. Also, hearing loss can have a significant effect on our cognitive load as it takes much more effort and energy to hear well. This means that your loved one may be concentrating hard on hearing well, often making them more tired than usual and missing important parts of conversations.
Asking for Repetitions
Lastly, people with hearing loss often rely on lip reading and facial cues more than they realise. This means that if you are not facing them or if they cannot see your face, they may not be hearing you well. This means they will often ask you to repeat yourself, respond inappropriately or complain that you are mumbling if they cannot see your face when you are talking.
Help them Hear Better and Live Better
If you are concerned about your loved one’s hearing, you can help make a difference. Approach the issue with empathy and understanding as this concern is regarding your loved one’s health and loss of something important to them. It is important to ask them about how they feel about their hearing and be open and honest with what you have noticed. Encourage them to have a hearing test to understand what their hearing ability is and what they can do about it.
In Australia, it is recommended that every adult aged over 50 years old should be having an annual hearing check. Whether your loved one is at the beginning of their hearing loss journey, or they have had hearing loss for many years, having a supportive person like yourself by their side can make all the difference to their health and wellbeing.
Help them take the first step to better hearing and better relationships. Book a hearing test appointment with your local ihear clinic.