If Someone You Love Has Hearing Loss How Can You Discuss it With Them?

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 someone you love is suffering from hearing loss? Hearing loss commonly goes overlooked by those who have it and that makes it even more difficult to talk about. Ignoring this frustrating problem is not helpful for anyone involved. Your family member’s life will be enhanced by the things you do now so don’t wait to find a way to talk about it. To help get you there, consider these guidelines.

Do the Research

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

This type of ear damage is called presbycusis. The effect is gradual and usually affects both ears similarly. Years before anyone detected it, it’s probable that this person started losing their hearing.

Persbyscusis occurs for numerous reasons. The simplest explanation for age-related hearing loss is that decades of sound eventually breaks down delicate mechanisms of the ear, particularly the tiny hair cells. These hair cells create electrical signals that go to the brain. The brain gets the message and translates them into what you know as sound. Hearing is impossible without those little hairs.

The following chronic illnesses can also play a role:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease

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

Make a Date

What you say to your loved one is important however it’s also important where you have the conversation. Setting something up so you can have a talk is your best bet. Select a setting that is quiet and ensures you won’t be interrupted. If you have any literature on the topic, you should bring that also. Presbycusis might be explained in a brochure that you can get from a doctor, for example.

Let’s Discuss the Whys

Expect this person to be a little defensive. Hearing loss is a delicate subject because it is associated with growing old. It’s difficult to acknowledge that you are growing older. Poor hearing may challenge the elderly’s belief that they are in control of their daily lives.

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

Mention that you need to keep repeating yourself while having conversations, too. Don’t make it seem like you’re complaining, keep it casual. Be patient and sympathetic as you put everything into perspective.

Sit Back and Listen

Be ready to sit back and listen after you have said what needs to be said. Your family member may share concerns or say they have recognized some changes but didn’t know what they should do. In order to help them come to a realization concerning their hearing loss, ask questions which encourage them to keep talking.

Let Them Know They Have a Support System

The most difficult challenge is going to be going beyond the fear that comes with hearing loss. Many people don’t realize that they have family and friends on their side and feel alone with their condition. Remind them of how other family members have found a way to cope with the same problem.

Bring Solutions

What to do next will be the most important part of the talk. Let your loved one know that hearing loss isn’t the end of the world. There are plenty of tools available to help, including hearing aids. Much more sleek and modern hearing aids are currently available. They come with features that improve the quality of life and come in many shapes and sizes. If possible bring a tablet, use a computer or have some brochures that show the various devices which are now available.

Going to the doctor is step one. Some hearing loss goes away. Have an ear exam to rule out things such as ear wax build up and medication that could be causing the problem. 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.