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

What is the best thing you can do when you recognize that a loved one is suffering from hearing loss? Hearing loss frequently goes unnoticed by those who suffer from it and that makes it much more difficult to bring up. No one is helped by disregarding this frustrating problem. Your loved one’s life will be improved by the choices you make now so don’t wait to find a way to talk about it. To help get you there, think about these tips.

Do the Research

Outlining the problem is easier if you first understand it. The chances of hearing loss increase as people grow older. About one in every three people have some amount of hearing loss by the time they reach the age of 74 and greater than half have it after the age of 75.

The medical term for this type of ear damage is presbycusis. The effect is gradual and usually affects both ears similarly. Most likely this person began losing some hearing years before anybody recognized it.

Persbyscusis happens for several reasons. To put it simply, decades of hearing sound eventually breaks down the fragile mechanism of the inner ear, particularly the tiny hair cells. These hair cells produce electrical messages that go to the brain. The brain receives the signals and translates them into what you know as sound. Hearing is not possible without those little hairs.

The following chronic illnesses can also play a role:

  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • High blood pressure

Hearing is impaired and the ear can be injured by all of these.

Make a Date

It’s not only important what you say but also where you decide to say it. Scheduling something so you can have a talk is the best bet. To ensure you won’t be interrupted, find a quiet place. If you have any written material on the topic, you should also bring that. Presbycusis may be discussed in a brochure that you can get from a doctor, as an example.

Talk About the Whys

The response you can expect right away is for the person to be defensive. Hearing loss is a sensitive subject because it is associated with aging. Growing older is a difficult thing to acknowledge. Senior citizens fight to stay in control of their daily lives and they might believe poor hearing challenges that freedom.

Be ready to offer specifics as to how you know they have some hearing problems.

Remind them how often they ask you and others to repeat themselves. Don’t make it seem like you’re complaining, keep it casual. Be patient and understanding as you put everything into perspective.

Sit Back and 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 may have other concern but doesn’t know what they should do. Ask questions that will encourage this person to continue talking about their experience to help make it real to them.

Talk About the Support System

The biggest challenge is going to be getting past the fear that comes with hearing loss. Many people feel alone with their condition and don’t recognize they have family and friends who will be there for them. Talk to them about others in the family who have had similar experiences and how they discovered ways to live with hearing loss.

Bring Solutions

What to do next is going to be the most important part of the discussion. Make your loved one aware that hearing loss isn’t the end of the world. There are lots of tools available to help, including hearing aids. Today’s hearing aids are modern and sleek. They come in many 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 different devices which are now available.

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

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