Help a Loved One Hear You
Too often, people with untreated hearing loss are not aware of the full impact this condition has on their lives. A study by the National Council on the Aging discovered that "people with hearing loss are more likely to report symptoms of depression, dissatisfaction with life, reduced functional health, and withdrawal from social activities."
Your role as a concerned family member, friend or Caregiver of someone with hearing loss can be pivotal. In fact, half of new first-time owners of hearing aids indicate that family members were a key factor influencing their purchase of a hearing aid.
The challenge of getting your loved one to fully reconnect with the life they once had begins with what is often the most difficult step – getting them to admit that they have hearing loss, and that it must be corrected.
Does Your Loved One Have a Hearing Loss?
Answer the following questions honestly to find out:
- Does he/she have a problem hearing you over the telephone?
- Do you or others complain that he/she turns the TV volume up too high?
- Do you feel like he/she has trouble hearing children or women’s voices?
- Are you and other family members or friends getting annoyed because he/she keeps misunderstanding what you say?
- Does it seem like he/she is ignoring you?
- Is it hard for he/she to follow a conversation if more than just one person is speaking?
- Does he/she have difficulty engaging in conversation in restaurants?
- Do you feel like you’re always repeating yourself or straining to speak louder?
- Does he/she complain that you mumble?
- Does he/she answer your questions inappropriately because of a misunderstanding of what you said?
If you answered yes to more than two of these questions, we urge you to bring your loved one in for a hearing evaluation. Keep reading to find out the best ways to approach the topic and deal with someone with a hearing loss.
From Denial to Recognition
One thing you don’t want to do might be your first impulse – to act as "their ears." Don’t repeat yourself, raise your voice, or act as a messenger. This will only allow them to either stay in denial or to simply continue living their lives with poor hearing. You're only enabling them to go without the help they really need.
It's also very important to get as much of your family and/or friends involved. A group effort in convincing a loved one to resolve their hearing issue is a “strength in numbers” approach that will give your point more impact and urgency.
Both of these approaches will help them understand that their hearing loss is negatively affecting more than just themselves, and that a solution must be considered.
Let's say that you and your family have gotten your loved one to admit that they have a hearing impairment. Now what? There’s still a good possibility that you’ll get pushback when you begin talking about hearing aids. They may have many preconceived notions or might simply not like the idea of wearing a device.
But today’s hearing aids speak for themselves. They’ve gone from obvious to discreet, from awkward to stylish, and from being simple amplifiers to sophisticated devices that seamlessly reconnect users to a life they once knew.
Being prepared with proven facts that debunk age-old myths and having knowledge of the many types and styles of hearing aids today and the technology available will go a long way in easing any anxiety.
Ten Commandments for Living with a Person who is Hard of Hearing
If you live with someone who has a hearing loss, you know they are not the only ones affected by it—you are too! It can be frustrating for everyone involved but these ten tips may help make things easier, make everyone a little happier, and make communication better than it has been in a long time.
- Be Patient. Remember that a person who is beginning to suffer hearing loss is like a child beginning to talk, listen, and understand. All conditions of communication are changing.
- Accept Reality. It changes both of your lives and introduces new elements in your relationship. It isn't going to go away. Try to remember that just because your loved one has a hearing loss, it doesn’t change who they are. They are still the same person you have loved for so long.
- Speak Slowly. Consider what it's like for you when you listen to a newscaster on television who rushes through lines, especially when statistics are being quoted. You have to really concentrate to hear what’s being said. Now imagine doing that all the time, instead of just a few minutes occasionally.
- Don't Shout. It doesn't help, and may give the impression that you are angry. Learn to speak distinctly. Careful enunciation is a useful habit to cultivate anyway.
- Understand Difficult Listening Situations. There is a famous line in a Broadway play "You Know I Can't Hear When The Water's Running." Adapt it to include, while the television is on, when the washing machine or the dishwasher is running, or when someone in the room is carrying on an animated conversation on the telephone. People with hearing loss find it hard to block out sounds while they are straining to hear your words.
- Don't Talk With Your Back to the Person with a Hearing Loss. Even if they can't read your lips accurately when you face them, they will get a better sense of what you are saying.
- Don't Walk Away While You Are Still Talking. Your words will get cut off and come across as "I'm going to see if ..." Frustrating, isn't it?
- Agree on a Signal When He or She Is Talking Too Loud. People with hearing loss often cannot hear their own voices well enough to judge their loudness, so in a situation where you are around company, it helps to discreetly let them know they are speaking too loudly.
- Have a Heart. Though you may be frustrated, hearing loss is worse for the afflicted person than for anyone else. Consider that you may also have to learn to live with your own hearing loss someday. That's one of the prices we pay in this century for living beyond the biblical three score and ten.
- Don't Show Annoyance. Even if you have to repeat yourself or because the hard of hearing person seems to have forgotten something you said a few moments ago, be patient and know they probably did not hear you the first time.