How to Have a Conversation With a Loved One About Their Loss of Hearing

Husband talking to his wife about her hearing loss and how to get help.

If you discover someone you love has hearing loss what should you do. Hearing loss often goes undetected by those who suffer from it and that makes it much more difficult to talk about. No one is benefited by neglecting this frustrating issue. Find a way to talk about it with your loved one now so that their life can be enhanced. To help get you there, think about these guidelines.

If You Want to be Able to Explain it Better, do The Research

You need to recognize the problem first if you want to be able to explain it. As people get older, the chances of hearing loss increase for them. About one person out of every three suffer from some level of hearing loss by the time they reach the age of 74 and greater than half suffer from it after they reach the age of 75.

The scientific term for this type of ear damage is presbycusis. It generally occurs in both ears equally, and the effect is gradual. This hearing loss probably began years before it was noticed.

Persbyscusis occurs for numerous reasons. To put it simply, many years of hearing sound eventually breaks down the fragile mechanism of the inner ear, especially the tiny hair cells. The brain gets electrical signals that are created by these little hair cells. What you know as sound is actually a signal that is received and then translated by the brain. Those hairs are an essential factor of hearing.

The following chronic health problems can also play a role:

  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • High blood pressure

All of these can harm the ear and impair the hearing.

Make a Date

What you say to your loved one is important but it’s equally important where you have the talk. The best option is to schedule something so you both can get together and have a talk. Choose a place that is quiet and guarantees you won’t be disturbed. If you have any literature on the subject, you should bring that also. Presbycusis may be explained in a brochure that you can obtain from a doctor, as an example.

Let’s Discuss the Whys

The reaction you can expect at first is for the person to be defensive. Loss of hearing is a sensitive subject because it is associated with aging. Growing older is a tough thing to accept. Poor hearing may challenge the elderly’s belief that they are in control of their day-to-day lives.

You will have to tell them why you think they have hearing loss and you will have to be specific.

They will have to be reminded how often they say “what did you say?” when people are talking to them. Keep the conversation casual and don’t make it sound like you are complaining. Be patient and sympathetic as you put everything into perspective.

Be Prepared to Listen

After you have said what you need to, be ready to settle-back and listen. Your family member might have noticed some changes and could have other worries but doesn’t know what they should do. To help them come to a realization concerning their hearing loss, ask questions that encourage them to keep talking.

Talk About the Support System

The greatest challenge is going to be getting past the fear that comes with hearing loss. Many people feel isolated with their problem and don’t realize they have family and friends who will be there for them. Remind them of how other family members have found ways to deal with the same problem.

Be Prepared to Offer Solutions

The most crucial part of this discussion is going to be what to do next. Hearing loss is not the end of the world so let your loved one know that. There are a lot of available tools such as hearing aids which can be helpful. Much more sleek and modern hearing aids are currently available. They come in all sizes and shapes and with features that improve the quality of life. If possible bring a tablet, use a computer or have some brochures that show the various devices that are now available.

Lastly, suggest that the first place to start is at the doctor’s office. Some hearing loss is temporary. Rule out earwax build up or medication side effects that could be causing your problem by getting an ear examination. A hearing exam can then be set up and you will know for sure.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.