Hearing loss can be a sensitive subject, no matter your age. Many people view it as a sign of growing older, but even young people can have trouble hearing. If you suspect that a loved one has become hard of hearing, here are a few suggestions to start a conversation about the problem without making them feel like they are under attack.
Broach the Subject Gently.
Except in cases of injury or an untreated medical condition, most people lose their hearing gradually. This means your loved one has adapted incrementally to their new “normal” hearing, and may not realize how muted the world around them has become. Since hearing loss does not affect all sounds universally, a person who is hard of hearing may still hear some things just fine, fueling denial that they have a problem at all. (High-pitched noises, like many long vowel sounds, as well as certain consonants, are the first to go). Alternatively, your loved one may be aware that they have trouble hearing, and don’t like being reminded of the signs that they are getting older. Make sure that they don’t feel antagonized when you approach them about their hearing loss, and stress that you want to help them.
Choose Your Messenger Carefully.
Remember, the point of any conversation about hearing loss is to convince the person in question to do something about the problem. They may resent what they perceive as nagging by a spouse, parent, or child, especially if the conversation devolves into accusations of “selective” hearing. Having a close friend, or even a grandchild, bring up the subject may produce more positive results. Try to phrase the discussion in terms of how much better their interactions with other people would be if they didn’t have to keep asking those around them to repeat things.
Focus on the Positive, but Address Their Concerns.
People resist getting their hearing checked for many reasons; it’s important that your loved one makes the decision to get help for their hearing problem on their own terms. You should do everything you can to facilitate that, including listening to their concerns and addressing them without being belittling. If transportation is a problem, find someone to drive them to the doctor’s office. If money is a concern, help them look into setting up a payment plan. Keep in mind that your role as facilitator means that the focus should be on how improved hearing will help them, not on how convenient it would be for you.
At Oklahoma Hearing Center, we want all of our patients to be able to participate fully in the world around them. Our audiologists will work with you to find the best option for dealing with your hearing loss, and will work with you to make sure your hearing aid(s) is programmed correctly for you. Visit our site today and give us a call to set up an appointment!