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? Normally, people who suffer from gradual hearing loss don’t recognize it so that makes it a difficult subject to talk about. It’s a frustrating issue for the whole family and ignoring it isn’t the answer. Find a way to talk about it with your loved one now so that their life can be improved. To help get you there, consider these tips.

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

Outlining the issue is much less difficult if you first understand it. When you grow older your risk of being affected by hearing loss raises. About one in every three people have some level of hearing reduction by the time they reach the age of 74 and greater than half have it after they reach the age of 75.

The medical term for this form of ear damage is presbycusis. It typically happens in both ears equally, and the effect is gradual. Years before anyone detected it, it’s probable that this person started losing their hearing.

Persbyscusis occurs for many reasons. To put it simply, years of listening to sound eventually breaks down the delicate mechanism of the inner ear, especially the tiny hair cells. The brain gets electrical messages that are generated by these little hair cells. What you know as sound is actually a signal that is received and then translated by the brain. Without those hair cells, hearing is not possible.

The following chronic illnesses can also play a role:

  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes

All of these can damage the ear and reduce hearing.

Set a Date

What you say to your loved one is important but it’s also important where you have the conversation. Setting something up so you can have a talk is the best bet. To make sure you won’t be disturbed, select a quiet spot. If you have any literature on the topic, you should also bring that. Presbycusis may be discussed in a brochure that you can get from a doctor, for example.

Talk About the Whys

The response you can expect right away is for the person to be defensive. Loss of hearing is a sensitive topic because it is associated with getting old. Growing older is a tough thing to acknowledge. Poor hearing might challenge the elderly’s idea that they are in control of their day-to-day lives.

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

Mention that you need to keep repeating yourself during conversations, too. Keep the conversation casual and don’t make it sound like you are stressing. Be patient and sympathetic as you put everything into perspective.

Sit Back and Listen

Once you have said what you need to, be prepared to sit back and listen. Your family member might express concerns or say they have noticed some changes but didn’t know what to do. Ask questions that will motivate this person to keep talking about their experience to help make it real to them.

Let Them Know They Have a Support System

The most difficult obstacle is going to be getting past the fear that comes with hearing loss. Many people feel isolated with their problem and don’t understand they have family and friends who will be there for them. Talk to them about others in the family that have had similar experiences and how they discovered ways to live with hearing loss.

Come Armed With Solutions

The most significant part of this conversation is going to be what to do next. Let your loved one know that hearing loss isn’t the end of the world. There are a lot of available tools including hearing aids which can be helpful. Much more sleek and modern hearing aids are now available. They come with features that improve the quality of life and come in many shapes and sizes. If you can bring a tablet, use a computer or have some brochures that show the different devices that are now available.

Finally, suggest that the first place to start is at the doctor’s office. Not all hearing loss is permanent. Rule out earwax build up or medication side effects that might be causing your issue by getting an ear exam. A hearing exam can then be set up and you will know for sure.

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.
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