Communication is the center of our relationships with our loved ones. Healthy relationships are maintained in part by discussing the events of our day, joking around over dinner, working out logistics, and sharing ideas. For people whose loved ones may be experiencing hearing loss, the breakdown in communication could lead to frustration and problems in a relationship.
It may not be easy to tell at first that hearing loss is the issue. It may seem as though our partner is ignoring us. It might seem like our parent is increasingly absent-minded or preoccupied.
In order to diagnose hearing loss, you must first acknowledge the signs of hearing loss. Does your loved one blast the volume way too high on the TV or radio? Do you find yourself having to repeat yourself often? Do they seem withdrawn or distant lately? These are just a few signs of hearing loss.
If you suspect a loved one may have hearing loss, you may choose to bring it up to them, though this will require a great amount of sensitivity. This conversation may be difficult to have, as many resist age-related taboos surrounding hearing loss. However, hearing loss is the third most common medical condition in the US, affecting nearly 48 million people; it’s also a condition that affects not only the elderly, but people of all ages.
For many people, getting a loved one to take a hearing test is a significant event. What do you do when brochures and pamphlets about hearing health are tossed away in the recycling? Educate yourself on the perils of hearing loss and research ahead of time in order to back up your statements when you sit down with your loved one. Over the decades, there have been many studies about how untreated hearing loss radiates to all areas of one’s life: employment, mental health, physical health, and of course, interpersonal relationships. Studies from Johns Hopkins have found that untreated hearing loss affects your cognitive abilities and could increase the risk for developing dementia. Other studies show how untreated hearing loss could lead to lower earning power in the workplace and a higher risk for falls, accidents and hospitalizations.
It’s important to seek treatment for hearing loss for your loved one if only to aid in subduing sensations of confusion that can accompany hearing loss. If you are concerned and want your loved one to take action, here are a few tips on encouraging a them to take a hearing test.
Choosing the right time and place is important. Hearing loss affects speech recognition abilities and this is why communication is a challenge with untreated hearing loss. You’ll want to choose a time and a place that is quiet. Avoid going to a busy café or during a night out on the town. Avoid playing background music when in conversation. Sit so that you are facing your loved one. Make sure the room is well lit because when accommodating for hearing loss, people begin to use facial expressions and lip movement as a way to make sense of what’s being said.
Discuss your own experiences with your loved one. Rather than pouring all of your frustrations on them, discuss your experiences with them that have been challenging you. Point to specific examples, if possible. Use “I” statements rather than accusatory “you” statements. For instance, “I feel” instead of “you always do this.”
Try not to nag or pester your loved one as trying to force them will only make them put up a mental block preventing themselves from getting the help they may desperately need. Try to remind your loved one of the things they are missing out on and would love to hear again. Gentle encouragement may eventually get your loved ones to seek the hearing care that they need. Often your loved one already is aware that something has changed. Give them an opportunity to discuss their fears and frustrations with the changes in their hearing. Ask open-ended questions about their experience and how they’ve been adjusting. Allow them to talk without interrupting them.
Hearing aid testing can provide amazing insight to help support a life with better hearing and easier communication. There are many exciting options available when it comes to hearing aids. After a hearing test, our team at State Hearing can help you and your loved one find the best option.
More than likely, your loved one will appreciate your care and concern for their well-being, as well as for valuing your relationship with one another. Offer them support on their journey to better hearing health! When the time is right, contact us at State Hearing for a consultation. Our team is here to support you and your loved ones.