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Talking to a Loved One About Hearing Loss
Hearing Loss Overview
Have you noticed that your loved one has been watching TV or listening to the radio at a very high volume? Do you find yourself having to repeat what you say multiple times? These are signs that your loved one may be experiencing hearing loss.
Hearing loss is the third most common medical condition in the United States, affecting 20% of the population or 48 million Americans. Hearing loss may occur to anyone, at any age. For older Americans, one in three people over the age of 65 experience hearing loss. This number rises to 50% of people age 75 years and older.
As an invisible condition, hearing loss tends to occur gradually. Chances are, your loved one has noticed changes in their hearing ability, but they may avoid taking action. Estimates show that people wait an average of seven years from the time they first notice changes in their hearing until the time they decide to seek a hearing evaluation.
If you suspect your loved one may be experiencing a hearing loss, it is important to encourage them to take a hearing test as soon as possible. Because this is a sensitive topic to broach, we have provided you with some tips for talking to a loved one about hearing loss.
Preparing to Talk to a Loved One About Hearing Loss
There are many resources available online about hearing loss. We recommend taking a look at literature provided by the Hearing Loss Association of America and the American Speech Language and Hearing Association.
Here, you’ll find information on the different types and causes of hearing loss, and actions to take. Preparing these resources before your conversation will help you as you talk to your loved one.
Choose a Quiet Location
With hearing loss, speech recognition proves challenging. When you plan a time to talk to your loved one, be sure to choose a quiet location without much competing background noise. It is also important to keep in mind that your loved one may not feel comfortable discussing this topic – so consider the privacy of the space.
Speak from Your Personal Experiences
Hearing loss is an isolating condition, but it also affects those around the person who experiences it. When you bring up the subject of hearing loss, give examples of your personal interactions with your loved one which point to signs of hearing loss.
Hearing loss may affect interpersonal relationships, as it interferes with communication. People with hearing loss tend to experience higher levels of stress and anxiety in social interactions, and as a result, tend to withdraw socially.
Note the instances where this has affected your relationship with your loved one. Speaking from your experiences will help your loved one feel less defensive about what’s going on.
Listen & Ask Questions
After you’ve made your case, give your loved one room to process and discuss their experiences. They may have already noticed changes in their hearing. The experience of hearing loss could be isolating and alienating to them. Listen, without judgment or interruption, and be sure to ask open-ended questions to glean more information about their experiences thus far.
Offer Your Support & Determine Next Steps
As much as hearing loss alienates, the road to better hearing ensures that people will reconnect with the sounds of their lives, their favorite activities, and their relationships with loved ones.
Offer your loved one support as they begin this process to better hearing. Encourage your loved one to schedule an appointment with us at Hearing Center of Hawaii for a hearing evaluation. We will assist you and your loved one on the next step to better hearing.