If you realize someone you love has hearing loss what should be done. It’s not an easy subject to talk about because frequently those who are gradually losing their hearing don’t recognize it. It’s a frustrating problem for the whole family and ignoring it isn’t the way to go. The things you do now will enhance 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
Outlining the issue is easier if you first understand it. As people get older, the risk of loss of hearing increase for them. About one in every three people suffer from some degree of hearing loss by the time they are 74 and greater than half suffer from it after they reach the age of 75.
The scientific term for this type of ear damage is presbycusis. It generally occurs in both ears equally, and the effect is gradual. Years before anyone noticed, it’s likely that this person started losing their hearing.
There are lots of reasons presbycusis happens. Simply put, years of listening to sound takes its toll on the delicate mechanism of the inner ear, specifically the tiny hair cells. These hair cells produce electrical messages that go to the brain. What you know as sound is actually a signal that is received and then translated by the brain. Those hairs are an essential element of hearing.
Chronic sicknesses can play a role, as well, such as:
- High blood pressure
- Cardiovascular disease
All of these can damage the ear and impair the hearing.
Set a Date
What you say to your loved one is important however it’s also important where you have the talk. Setting something up so you can have a conversation is your best bet. It’s important not to be interrupted so go with a quiet venue. Bringing literature on the topic can be quite helpful. Presbycusis might be discussed in a brochure that you can get from a doctor, as an example.
Let’s Discuss the Whys
Expect this person will be a little defensive. Because it is related to aging, hearing loss can be a delicate matter. It’s difficult to accept that you are growing older. Older people fight to stay in control of their daily lives and they might think poor hearing challenges that freedom.
Be ready to provide specifics as to how you know they have some hearing problems.
Remind them how often they ask you and others to repeat themselves. Keep the conversation casual and don’t make it sound like you are complaining. As you comprehend and put everything into perspective, be patient.
Now it’s Time to Listen
Once you have said what you need to, be ready to sit back and listen. Your family member might express concerns or say they have noticed some changes but didn’t know what they should do. Ask questions that will encourage this person to keep talking about what they’re going through to help make it real to them.
Let Them Know They Have a Support System
Getting past the fear that comes with hearing loss is going to be the greatest challenge. Many people feel on their own with their problem and don’t realize they have family and friends who will be there for them. Remind them of how other family members have discovered a way to deal with the same issue.
Be Prepared to Offer Solutions
The most important part of this conversation is going to be what to do next. Make your loved one aware that hearing loss is not the end of the world. There are lots of tools available to help, such as hearing aids. Today’s hearing aids are modern and sleek. They come in all sizes and shapes and with features that improve the quality of life. If you can bring a tablet, use a computer or have some brochures that show the various devices which are now available.
Going to the doctor is the first step. Some hearing loss goes away. Rule out earwax build up or medication side effects that may be causing your problem by getting an ear examination. Then the doctor can set up a hearing test, and you can go from there.