Husband talking to his wife about her hearing loss and how to get help.

What is the best thing to do when you realize that someone you love is suffering from hearing loss? Hearing loss commonly goes unnoticed by those who suffer from it and that makes it even more difficult to talk about. No one is helped by ignoring this frustrating issue. The things you do now will better the lives of your parent, spouse, sibling or friend and it starts with discovering a way to talk about it. Consider these strategies to help get you there.

Do the Research

Explaining the problem is much less difficult if you first comprehend it. As people grow older, the risk of loss of hearing increase for them. About one in every three people have some degree of hearing reduction by the time they are 74 and more than half have it after they reach the age of 75.

Presbycusis is the technical name for this kind of ear damage. It generally happens in both ears equally, and the effect is gradual. Years before anyone detected it, it’s likely that this person started losing their hearing.

There are numerous reasons presbycusis happens. To put it simply, many years of listening to sound eventually breaks down the delicate mechanism of the inner ear, especially the tiny hair cells. The brain gets electrical messages that are produced by these little hair cells. The brain receives the signals and translates them into what you know as sound. Those hairs are an essential factor of hearing.

The impact of chronic illnesses like:

  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes

All of these can harm the ear and reduce hearing.

Set a Date

What you say to your loved one is important however it’s equally important where you have the talk. Setting something up so you can have a conversation is your best bet. You don’t want to be disturbed so decide on a private spot. Bring with you whatever written material you can on the subject too. For instance, the doctor might have a brochure that explains presbycusis.

Talk About the Whys

Expect this person to be a little defensive. Hearing loss is a delicate topic because it is related to growing old. It’s tough to acknowledge that you are getting older. Senior citizens fight to stay in control of their daily lives and they may think poor hearing challenges that freedom.

You will have to tell them how you know they have hearing loss and you will need to be specific.

They will need to be reminded how often they say “what did you say?” when people are talking to them. Keep the conversation casual and don’t make it sound like you are stressing. As you understand and put everything into perspective, be patient.

Now it’s Time to Listen

After you have said what you need to, be prepared to settle-back and listen. Your family member might share concerns or say they have noticed some changes but were unsure what to do. In order to help them come to a realization about their hearing loss, ask questions which motivate them to keep talking.

Let Them Know They Have a Support System

The most difficult challenge is going to be getting past the fear that comes with hearing loss. Many people don’t understand that they have friends and family on their side and feel alone with their condition. Remind them of how other family members have discovered a way to cope with the same problem.

Be Prepared to Offer Solutions

What to do next will be the most significant part of the talk. Let your loved one know that hearing loss is not the end of the world. There are a lot of available tools such as hearing aids which can be helpful. Much more sleek and modern hearing aids are currently available. They come with features that improve the quality of life and come in all shapes and sizes. If possible bring a tablet, use a computer or have some brochures that show the different devices which are now available.

Lastly, suggest that the first place to start is at the doctor’s office. 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. A hearing exam can then be set up and you will know for sure.

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