Hearing difficulties can come on gradually or happen suddenly. Either way, it makes simple, everyday conversations more difficult, straining, and stressful. Hearing loss can force people on an emotional journey that can be difficult to handle. From denial, anger, and frustration to depression and social isolation, dealing with hearing loss is challenging, no matter how or when it occurs. It can cause problems in relationships with spouses, friends, and family, in social interactions, in business, and in many other aspects of daily life.
Getting your loved one to acknowledge and accept that they might be having a difficult time hearing conversations around them is another struggle. However, it’s critical that you support your loved one through the journey to better hearing in order to help enable them to begin enjoying personal and social experiences once again and leading a richer and more fulfilling quality of life.
Here are some tips.
1. Avoid enabling denial
With your help, your loved one with hearing loss may be able to get on relatively well in day-to-day situations. You make it a point to shout or to repeat yourself so your loved one can hear. You relay messages and repeat what others said. But this only enables their denial. Stop shouting, repeating, and being the messenger of conversations.It may seem like you’re not supporting your loved one through these actions, but they are required to allow your loved one to realize that help is needed. This can help them overcome denial and increase motivation to seek treatment.
2. Start the conversation on the right foot
It can be tough to find the right time and setting to have a conversation about hearing loss, hearing tests, and hearing aids with your loved one. You might be worried about the reactions that you’ll receive. You don’t want to start an argument.
Starting a conversation, however, is critical to showing your support. To have this talk, ensure that you’re in a private and quiet area where you and your loved one feel comfortable. Speak clearly and slowly, and ensure that you’re facing them so they can hear most, if not all, of what you are saying.
3. Be understanding and empathetic
It’s normal for you to also be frustrated with your loved one’s hearing loss. It may have affected your relationship and caused hardships on your life as well. Avoid displaying your frustrations. Instead, focus on being understanding of the situation and empathetic of the journey that they are going through. Attempt to avoid questions or topics that will elicit defensive responses. Listen to their concerns and share your own. Help them understand how you’ve been affected, with examples and specific scenarios, in a calm manner.
4. Expect resistance
As we mentioned, the reactions you receive may be mixed. Your loved one may be in denial, may believe they’re too young to need hearing aids, or may adamantly refuse to have their hearing tested. Expect these types of resistance and plan for them. Explainhow hearing loss can affect people of all ages. Tell them hearing aid technology has advanced significantly and that hearing aids are now less noticeable and virtually invisible.
Suggest that you both get your hearing tested at the same time and explain that it’s just a normal part of life, like getting a dental checkup or physical. Explain that the longer they wait, the worse the effects will become. Explain that scientific research now even links hearing loss to dementia and cognitive decline.
5. Communicate the next steps
During your conversation, it’s going to become clear just how your life—and your loved one’s life—has been negatively affected by hearing loss. Explain how it doesn’t have to stay this way. Explain how hearing aids can help them enjoy the things they love and improve their quality of life.
Schedule an appointment with one of our doctoral-level audiologists for a comprehensive hearing evaluation.