As our loved ones grow older, they often begin to experience gradual hearing loss. While this process is difficult and often foreign to family members, there are ways to minimize and improve the process. With early prevention techniques and education, both those who suffer from hearing loss and their families can learn various ways to spot the signs of gradual hearing loss, seek an appropriate course of action, and learn how to communicate better to improve the quality of their relationships.
If you believe your loved one is experiencing gradual hearing loss, don’t let the stress and emotion of this time take away from the opportunities you have to provide comfort, knowledge, and patience as you and your loved one work together with a hearing aid professional to find an appropriate solution.
How to Recognize hearing loss
When a loved one is experiencing gradual hearing loss, it is often the close family members and friends who recognize this hearing loss first. Below are some common signs of gradual hearing loss:
- Difficulty following conversations with more than two people
- Asking for frequent repetition
- Feeling overwhelmed in large social situations
- Turning the volume up on the TV or radio
- Responding incorrectly in normal conversations
- Withdrawing from activities and hobbies
- Feeling anxious or stressed in normal conversations
- Increased anxiety or frustration with other people
Family involvement with hearing loss
Once it has become apparent that your loved one is suffering from hearing loss, you must then decide how and when to broach the subject. If your loved one has mentioned their struggle hearing before and is receptive to the idea of hearing aids or other treatments, then this conversation should flow naturally. However, as hearing loss can often be a sensitive subject, you may need to carefully approach the topic in order to minimize the emotional aspect of the situation. Here are some common questions asked by family members as they are researching ways to talk to their loved ones about hearing loss.
How do you first broach the topic of hearing loss with your loved one and keep the conversation positive?
When you are first discussing hearing loss with your loved one, they may be sensitive to the topic and unwilling to discuss the hearing loss. Be sure to use the appropriate pronouns, instead of isolating them by talking about “their” problem, use words like “we”, “our”, and “I”. This will help them realize that hearing loss affects more than just one person.
Hearing loss is often a sensitive subject because it comes with fears and trepidations, which are often easier if left untouched. However, by addressing these fears with real life examples and solutions, you may be able to bridge the gap between why your loved one is resistant to hearing aids and why hearing aids are a good solution. You can do this by discussing positive real-life scenarios where hearing aids have made an impact, or discussing the advances in technology that have changed the landscape of hearing aid technology. Many patients have an outdated idea of what a hearing aid will look like, what it can do, and its convenience, so be prepared to show off the latest technology and calm these fears.
How do you convince your loved one that they are suffering from hearing loss if they do not believe you?
Perhaps the most difficult step in supporting your loved one through their hearing loss journey is convincing them that they are, indeed, on a hearing loss journey. While it is important to remain patient through this process, this is an ideal time to create awareness about their hearing loss. Gently using repetitious phrases like, “Hearing Question”, every time your loved one asks for you to repeat a sentence may feel burdensome, but the repetition will quickly remind the person of how often they ask for assistance.
While it may seem cruel or unfair, one of the most beneficial things you can do when helping someone realize their hearing loss is to remove the actions that support this loss – speaking louder, turning the volume up, and repeating conversations. This may initially breed tension, but you should always follow up these actions with explanations like, “My voice grows tired when I have to speak this loudly” or “My ears hurt when the volume is this loud,” etc. This will help your loved realize that their hearing loss is affecting others.
Benefits of treating hearing loss
As you continue to support and encourage your loved one through their journey of hearing loss, and hopefully, hearing again with the help of hearing aids, you will begin to see the many benefits and joys of being able to hear again. Here are just a few common effects people experience after regaining their hearing:
- Reduced depression or social anxiety – Since hearing loss is often associated with withdrawal from social activities and hobbies; it is common to see depression in elderly patients. After regaining their hearing ability, many patients feel like they have purpose again and are able to be engaged and involved in their communities.
- Improved safety – In addition to hearing the doorbell or the phone ring, improved hearing will help you or your loved one be aware of safety hazards and recognize where danger is coming from more reliably.
- Increased confidence – As hearing loss occurs, it can be difficult for many people to convey the challenges of hearing loss, and as a result, they often begin to feel isolated and second-guess their abilities. With an improvement in hearing ability, people often report an acceptance of their hearing loss and increased confidence as they learn how to speak openly about it and its affect in their life.
- More energy – Struggling to hear a conversation can drain the energy and stamina out of a person. With hearing aids, the patient can spend more time enjoying the moment and focusing their energy on the people and activities in their lives, rather than the strain of hearing.
The Importance of Support
Experiencing hearing loss is a process, filled with emotional highs and lows, but the support of family and friends is invaluable. By remaining positive, encouraging, and offering valuable information when necessary, you may be the best option to broach the subject of hearing aids to your loved one and help them make the choice to improve their quality of life. If you or a loved one is ready to start the journey to better hearing, contact us today to schedule your free hearing test.