Hearing loss is a common problem. An estimated one-third of people ages 65-74 has hearing loss, and these rates increase to almost half of those 75 and older. Even though it’s common, that doesn’t mean people want to admit they have a problem, and it can leave a person isolated and jeopardize their health and wellness.
Our skilled team of audiologists at Sharp Hearing Care Professionals knows that coping with hearing loss isn’t easy. However, ignoring the problem only makes things worse, especially for the person who has an issue and doesn't realize it.
If someone you love has hearing loss, we recommend taking these steps to help them cope and get the help they need.
Learn more about hearing loss
Before trying to talk to your loved one about hearing loss, try to learn as much as you can about the condition. Greater understanding leads to more empathy.
There are several forms of hearing loss. It can range from mild loss where someone misses certain sound pitches to total or profound loss of hearing. There’s even tinnitus — a common problem in older people that causes ringing, hissing, buzzing, roaring, or clicking in the ears.
Hearing loss can also occur for several reasons — disease, heredity, aging, and noise. You can even experience hearing loss from underlying conditions, like high blood pressure or diabetes and from taking certain medications.
In many cases, hearing loss that occurs with age comes on gradually, so a person may not realize they’ve lost their ability to hear well. Some hearing loss is reversible, such as when you have fluid or wax buildup in your ears.
A comprehensive hearing evaluation can determine the type and extent of hearing loss your loved one may be facing. And taking this step ensures that they find the most effective treatment option to address it.
How to talk about hearing loss
When you try raising your concern with your loved one, it’s essential to be compassionate and advocate for their well-being. People with hearing loss often feel ashamed and even deny that they have a problem, but responding with love, kindness, understanding and presenting the simple solutions available to help can foster a positive conversation.
Instead of confronting a person, focus on the issue and assure them there are solutions to effectively address hearing loss. Set yourselves up for success by:
- Finding a quiet place with little background noise and good lighting
- Facing them, making eye contact, and speaking clearly
- Talking slightly louder than normal (but don’t shout)
- Speaking slowly but naturally
- Not eating, chewing gum, or hiding your mouth while speaking
- Repeating yourself if needed with different words
- Being patient, positive, and relaxed
- Making sure only one person speaks at a time
- Asking how you can help
In the end, it’s your loved one’s decision on how to move forward with their hearing loss. Even if you disagree, try to remain supportive so the lines of communication remain open.
Suggesting a hearing assessment
Talk to your loved one about a hearing assessment. They’re completely painless, and there are no right or wrong answers. They simply allow us to identify the cause and extent of the hearing loss so we can address the issue.
Depending on your loved one’s hearing assessment, we could suggest a variety of approaches to help improve hearing, such as:
There are also mobile apps or alerting devices that send vibrations or visual signals, like flashing lights, to let you know if a phone is ringing or someone is at the door.
If someone you love has hearing loss, you’re not alone. We have the experience you need to get them the help they need. Contact the Sharp Hearing Care Professionals office nearest you by calling or scheduling a visit online today.