For many different reasons, the topic of hearing loss can be a sensitive one to broach. Some people believe that hearing loss is a condition that makes them appear “old,” while others simply do not want to acknowledge a “weakness.”
It’s important to keep in mind that hearing loss is a medical condition that affects 20% of Americans, regardless of age. Indeed, one in three people over the age of 65 and 50% of people over the age of 75 experience some degree of hearing loss – but this is not something to be pushed aside as a normal part of aging.
In fact, hearing loss is an invisible condition that can radiate to many different areas of one’s life if left untreated. People wait an average of seven years from the time they first notice changes in their hearing abilities to the time they decide to seek treatment. During this time, people can develop stress, depression, and anxiety; increase their risk for dementia; and become socially isolated due to difficulties to communication.
If you believe your loved one may be experiencing hearing loss, you may decide it is time to have a conversation about seeking treatment.
Paying Attention to the Signs of Hearing Loss
Because it is an invisible condition, it may be difficult at first to spot hearing loss. Additionally, people tend to overcompensate or learn to adapt to life with diminished hearing abilities.
If your loved one constantly asks you to repeat yourself, or they have the volume on their television and radio turned up to the maximum level, or they’ve been avoiding family gatherings or social events, they may have a hearing loss.
Do Your Own Research
Before addressing this topic with your loved one, take a look at resources online to learn more about hearing loss. The Hearing Loss Association of America and the American Speech Language Hearing Association both offer a wealth of information on the signs of hearing loss, the consequences of untreated hearing loss, and the steps we can take to improve our hearing health. With this data, you may be able to make a more convincing argument in encouraging your loved one to take a hearing test.
Find a Quiet Time & Place to Have a Private Conversation
Hearing loss is a sensitive topic and has long been a subject of taboo. For this reason, it might benefit you to schedule a conversation one-on-one, for the sake of privacy. Furthermore, it’s important to keep in mind that hearing loss interferes with the ability to communicate – so finding a quiet spot without the distraction of background noise is best.
When you bring up your concerns, frame your statements from your perspective. Then, give your loved on a chance to respond. Ask them open-ended questions that require more than a “yes” or “no” answer. And then – listen. Give them the time and space, uninterrupted, to discuss their own frustrations and concerns. Chances are, they may have noticed changes too.
Offer Your Support
When it comes down to it, facing hearing loss can be a daunting and scary experience. It is also a very isolating experience. Broaching the subject of hearing loss is the hard part. Once you and your loved one have acknowledged the change in their hearing abilities, the next steps are less difficult.
You’ll want to encourage your loved one to schedule a hearing test, which will determine their current hearing abilities. Offer your support as your loved one prepares for their hearing test: compile any medical information you may have, brainstorm a list of their daily activities, etc. These personal details will come in handy if hearing treatment is necessary.
If a hearing loss is detected, the most common form of treatment is hearing aids. If your loved one does get fitted for hearing aids, be supportive as they grow accustomed to their devices. With time, it will be easier to communicate and connect with your loved one.
Treating Hearing Loss
At Accurate Hearing Systems, we offer many different hearing aid models that are designed to treat different degrees and configurations of hearing loss.
Hearing aids come with rechargeable options and are equipped with features to minimize background noise and feedback, and to improve speech recognition. Our experienced team at Accurate Hearing Systems will assist your loved one in finding the best fit, based on their hearing ability and their lifestyle. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and hearing test.