Our relationships are built on communication, relating with each other through conversation, stories, and even inside jokes! You may have noticed that lately that communication with your loved one has been challenging. Perhaps they do not respond as quickly as they once did, or they may ask you to repeat yourself more than once. For many different reasons, the topic of hearing loss is a sensitive one. Some people may not want to discuss aging, while others may not want to discuss their weaknesses.
Even so, hearing loss is an important topic as we grow older. It is a natural part of aging, and even more, it is the third most common medical condition in the United States. Approximately 20% of Americans experience some degree of hearing loss. While it does affect people of all ages, hearing loss is most prevalent among adults over the age of 65. One in three people over the age of 65 and 50% of people over the age of 75 experience some degree of hearing loss.
The Hearing Loss Association of America estimates that it takes someone seven years between noticing the first symptoms and seeking treatment for hearing loss. If you believe your loved one may have a hearing loss, it is important to encourage them to seek treatment sooner, rather than later. Here are some tips on broaching the topic of hearing loss with your loved one(s).
Do Your Research
The Hearing Loss Association of America and the American Speech Hearing Language Association are both excellent resources for understanding hearing loss. They outline the signs and symptoms of the condition, and they provide information on the consequences of untreated hearing loss, as well as the benefits of seeking treatment. Doing research on hearing loss will give you important information to share with your loved one and could further encourage them to take a hearing test.
Choose the Right Time and Place
Keep in mind that hearing loss greatly affects one’s speech recognition abilities. For this reason, it is important to schedule a conversation in a quiet place. Because it could be a sensitive topic, consider having a one-on-one conversation rather than with a big group. Make sure that there are no extraneous noises that could interrupt the conversation, such as music or TV in the background.
Discuss Concerns from Your Perspective
As many counselors would agree, it is always better to bring up an issue from your point of view. Framing your concerns with “I” statements better illustrate your consideration for your loved one. Avoid using statements such as “You always do xyz” as this could put them on the defense. Instead, show your concern with statements such as “I have noticed that when you watch the TV, the volume is on very loud” or “I’ve noticed that you haven’t been meeting up with your friends as much lately” or “It worries me that the radio is on so loud.” Framing statements in this way may encourage your loved one to be more receptive to your concerns.
Chances are, your loved one may have already noticed changes in their hearing. More often than not, people learn to adapt and adjust to their changing hearing abilities by making accommodations such as turning the volume up louder or asking people to repeat themselves in conversation. Once you’ve voiced your concerns, ask your loved one open-ended questions and give them the opportunity to discuss their worries and concerns.
Discuss Research and Treatment Options
Here’s where your research will come in handy! If you loved one seems hesitant to take a hearing test, provide them with evidence on the numerous benefits of treating hearing loss. Treating hearing loss helps people stay connected to their loved ones, supports better cognitive health, potentially reduces the risk for developing dementia, and helps people stay active in their lives both in the workplace and in their favorite hobbies. Furthermore, treating hearing loss helps reduce the risk of falls and accidents, and it could also reduce depression, stress, and anxiety. Use this time to share what you’ve learned with your loved one about the benefits of treating hearing loss.
Visit Us at Southeast Medical Hearing Centers
If your loved one is open to taking a hearing test, our team at Southeast Medical Hearing Centers is here to help. When the time is right, give us a call to schedule an appointment. We provide comprehensive hearing tests and hearing aid fittings, and our team is here to support you and your family on the journey to better hearing.