Talking to Your Loved One About Hearing Loss Treatment

Talking to Your Loved One About Hearing Loss Treatment

In Communication, Family & Relationships, Hearing Health, hearing loss by Candace Wawra

While hearing loss can be a problem for people of any age, it is by far most common in Americans at or past retirement age. About one-third of those age 60–69 have hearing loss, and two-thirds of those age 70 and up have it. Nearly 100% of centenarians have hearing loss, suggesting we’ll all experience it eventually if we only live long enough!

Perhaps it is at least in part because hearing loss so disproportionately affects those later in life that many of us are so resistant to pursuing treatment for it. Admitting that we need treatment for age-related hearing loss requires us to accept that we are moving on from middle life.

While our resistance may be natural, it is also unfortunate! Treatment for hearing loss—most often in the form of hearing aids—can help us to prevent many of the very changes we would wish to avoid as we age. Those who wear hearing aids tend to be more independent, optimistic, and confident. They report fewer memory troubles than those with untreated hearing loss, and are at a decreased likelihood of experiencing cognitive decline and dementia. When asked after one year of wearing them, 95% of people say they’re glad they got hearing aids.

If you have a loved one who is resistant to getting hearing aids, a gentle touch is key to helping them open up to the idea. While untreated hearing loss is frustrating for everyone involved, it’s important to remember that they may be frightened of what’s happening to them, and may need some time to grapple with the reality of their hearing loss. Some people go through a kind of grieving over the loss of their hearing ability.

If you’re planning to talk to your loved one about treating their hearing loss, the following tips may be useful in having the most productive interaction possible.

Pay Attention to the Environment

Sometimes we have a tendency to call out our loved one’s hearing loss at the very moment that it is causing a problem, but this is ill-advised. This can add additional shame to an already difficult situation, which can often prompt a person to dig in their heels and refuse treatment even more vehemently. It is better to wait, and stage an appropriate occasion for the conversation.

The goal should not be to “prove” to your loved one that they have hearing loss, but to create a comfortable setting in which they feel free to reflect on their experience of hearing loss so far. Toward the goal of facilitating conversation, distractions should be removed. The environment should be quiet and well-lit. Your loved one should be able to hear you as best as possible, as well as see your face so they can read your lips.

Talk… But Also Listen

There is a great deal of information on the Internet about the dangers of untreated hearing loss, and the advantages of hearing aids. You’ll want to have some of this information at hand, and present it to your loved one. Additionally, you’ll want to calmly—and as briefly as possible—explain how their hearing loss has affected you. Then, listen to what they have to say.

Untreated hearing loss can be an isolating, frightening experience. Sometimes people can react with aggression or paranoia. By inviting your loved one to talk about their experience in a quiet, comfortable setting, they may be able to be more at ease in discussing their hearing loss than they have felt in a while. Let them speak at length if they wish, and allow some pauses to happen without rushing in to fill the silence.

Offer Support

We always recommend the “buddy system” when it comes to hearing tests. There is a lot of information to absorb when it comes to making decisions about hearing aids, and two heads remember more than one!

Offering support to your loved one as they start their journey toward better hearing can help them feel less alone, and more willing to try something new. Remember that the point is not simply to get hearing aids, but for your loved one to appreciate wearing them every day! They need to want to wear hearing aids, or they will find every reason to refuse. When they’re ready, make an appointment for a hearing test. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.