Because hearing loss most often occurs gradually
Your loved one might not even realize their hearing has gotten worse. Bringing up the conversation of hearing loss can heighten emotions and can affect relationships in a variety of ways.
Here are some SOCIAL signs of hearing loss:
- Frequently asking others to repeat
- Difficulty following conversations with two or more speakers
- Complaints that others are mumbling
- Tendency to avoid group situations such as restaurants
EMOTIONAL signs of hearing loss:
- Feeling stressed from straining to hear
- Feeling annoyed because people mumble or speak to softly
- Feeling nervous when meeting new people
- Withdrawal from social situations
PHYSICAL signs of hearing loss:
- Ringing in the ears
- Cupping hand behind the ear to hear better
- Family history of hearing loss
- History of noise exposure
Well before you are ready to have the hard conversations about hearing loss, ask your loved one what you can do to make communication easier. Should you go to a quieter place for dinner? Should you turn off the background music? Would it help if you turned off the TV while you talk? By showing this consideration, they can see that you love them and are aware of their hearing difficulties.
Find a time to talk about hearing loss when your loved one is not tired from having to strain all day to hear. Earlier in the day is generally the best time. Find an environment that is private, quiet and distraction free without lots of other family and friends around.
Stick to the Facts
Since hearing loss can be an emotional subject, bringing up factual points (like 9 out of 10 people with hearing loss can be helped) can alleviate some of the emotional reaction. Describe specific symptoms you’ve noticed. Highlight some facts about how common hearing loss is and how easy it is to address. Be sure to describe your observations without being accusatory. In this way, they will know that your speaking with love, not blame.
Your loved one may deny having a problem or may not be ready to take action. If this is the case, encourage them to pay attention to their behavior and see if they’re noticing the same thing you are seeing. Then give them some time to be a bit more aware and revisit the conversation in a few months. Acknowledging hearing loss can be an emotional journey and may take months or years before a person is ready to take action. By being respectful and offering support you can help shorten the process and moved your loved one closer to taking action.