How to talk about hearing loss with your loved ones
When one suffers from hearing problems, it not only affects their day to day life, but also those around them. Simple things such as engaging in a conversation with friends and family can cause increasing amounts of frustration and embarrassment. In some cases, hearing loss can also prove to be dangerous as warning signals and other signs of danger may not garner a response right away. Hearing tests should be conducted as frequently as eye tests, but the first step is to recognise the problem.
Bringing up the subject of hearing loss with someone you care about isn’t easy, and despite you being able to see the signs as clear as day, those going through it may not realise anything unusual due to the process being gradual.
Therefore, it’s important to approach the matter in small steps. Showing compassion and understanding can take you a long way.
Here are some tips on how to approach a loved one about hearing loss.
1. Baby steps
The first time you bring up the conversation about hearing loss, don’t be surprised if they don’t immediately take your concerns on board. Whether they’re in denial or think their issue doesn’t require immediate attention, those suffering from a hearing impairment may take time to accept their ailment.
Which is why you need to start small. When approaching them for the first time, discuss symptoms and solutions so they become more comfortable with discussing their problems with you. Next, ask them what activities give them the most amount of frustration: Talking on the phone, watching television and how they respond to background noise are all areas of concern that should be discussed.
Once they understand how hearing loss is impacting their everyday life, they’ll be more motivated to find a solution and do something about it.
2. Don’t sound condescending
Use the word “I”. Even though you may be a discussing a concern that relates to them, constantly referring to the issue as “your” problem may come across as chastising and will ultimately lead you nowhere. Instead, talk about how the issue is affecting you and the people they love, but in a way that doesn’t push them into becoming defensive.
3. Always remain optimistic
For the longest time hearing aids have come with negative connotations, so it’s understandable if it takes time for someone to warm up to the idea. So as the person starting the conversation, it’s important to remain positive and optimistic. The best way to do this is by giving examples of co-workers, friends or anyone you know who have had a good experience with hearing aids.
It would be even better if that person could explain to your loved one how a hearing aid has made a positive impact in their life. Also discuss things that they will gain, such as a better outlook on life and a healthier wellbeing. Being able to hear properly has been proven to decrease dementia and brain atrophy and relieve symptoms of depression and loneliness.
4. Listen to their concerns and fears
A healthy discussion means two people having a conversation where they both have equal say. Which is why you need to take the time to listen to their concerns, as chances are, they’ll open up to you once they feel comfortable. Their apprehensions may have to do with hearing aids making them appear old, which in this day and age, is not the case due to how discreet the small piece of technology can be.
Also avoid cutting them off when they’re talking, as they may feel invalidated and unheard. An example of a good conversation is below:
Them: “Hearing aids are for the elderly and I’m not that old just yet.”
You: “While I understand how you feel, as no one wants to experience being older than they are, hearing aids are quite inconspicuous. Which means no one would know about your hearing loss.”
5. Encourage them to be proactive
Now that you’ve tackled the first few steps, it’s time to discuss the ways in which they can live life to the fullest with the help of their hearing aid. Having an open conversation about hearing nutrition, new technologies and community-orientated engagement is a great way to help them realise that a hearing aid is simply a support system and will not stop them from experiencing new things.
The more the topic of hearing aids is spoken about, the more comfortable they will be when seeing a professional for help.
It’s time to fight the stigma surrounding hearing loss. With many modern devices now being discreet, there is no need to feel self-conscious. The importance of getting your hearing checked as you age is one that cannot be stressed enough, as it’s always better to ask for help sooner rather than later.
On average it takes six to 10 years for those suffering from the condition to reach out for professional help. But while it may take a while for the people you care about to seek treatment, don’t give up, as every small step is headed towards the right direction. And if the person in question is you, then always remember that you are not alone, and support is right around every corner.
Lastly, always remember that discovering you potentially have a hearing impairment is not easy on anyone, so if the person you’re trying to reach out to is putting up barriers, then give it a rest and try again another time.
For further information and guidance on getting the conversation started, visit bloom™ hearing specialists.
This is sponsored content brought to you in conjunction with bloom™ hearing specialists.