It’s Difficult to Determine What to Do About a Loved One Who Has Loss of Hearing

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

What is the best thing to do when you realize that a loved one is suffering from hearing loss? Usually, people who have gradual hearing loss don’t realize it so that makes it a hard subject to talk about. Ignoring this frustrating problem is not helpful for anyone involved. The things you do now will enhance the lives of your parent, spouse, sibling or friend and it starts with discovering a way to discuss it. Consider these strategies to help get you there.

Do the Research

First off, you should comprehend what is happening yourself so you can describe it. As people grow older, the chances of loss of hearing increase for them. About one person out of every three suffer from some amount of hearing loss by the time they reach the age of 74 and greater than half have it after they reach the age of 75.

This form of ear damage is technically known as presbycusis. It usually happens in both ears equally, and the effect is gradual. This hearing loss probably started years before it was detected.

There are lots of reasons presbycusis happens. The simplest explanation for age-related hearing loss is that years of sound takes its toll on the delicate mechanisms of the ear, especially the tiny hair cells. These hair cells create electrical messages that go to the brain. The brain gets the message and translates them into what you know as sound. Without those hair cells, hearing is impossible.

The impact of chronic illnesses like:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular disease

Hearing is impaired and the ear can be hurt by each one of these.

Make a Date

It’s not only important what you say but also where you choose to say it. Scheduling something so you can have a conversation is your best bet. Choose a place that is quiet and ensures you won’t be interrupted. Bringing literature on the topic is also quite helpful. For instance, the doctor might have a brochure that clarifies presbycusis.

Let’s Discuss the Whys

Expect this person to be a little defensive. Because it is related to aging, loss of hearing can be a delicate subject. It’s difficult to accept that you are getting older. Older people struggle to stay in control of their daily lives and they may think poor hearing challenges that freedom.

You will have to tell them how you know they have hearing loss and you will have to be specific.

They will have to be reminded how often they say “what did you say?” when people are talking to them. Don’t make it seem like you’re complaining, keep it casual. As you comprehend and put everything into perspective, be patient.

Now it’s Time to Listen

Once you have said what you need to, be ready to settle-back and listen. Your family member may express concerns or say they have noticed some changes but were unsure what to do. Ask questions that will motivate this person to continue talking about their experience to help make it real to them.

Talk About the Support System

Getting past the fear that comes with hearing loss is going to be the biggest challenge. Many people don’t realize that they have family and friends on their side and feel isolated with their condition. Talk about others in the family that have had similar experiences and how they discovered ways to live with hearing loss.

Come Armed With Solutions

What to do next is going to be the most crucial part of the discussion. Hearing loss is not the end of the world so let your loved one know that. There are a lot of available tools such as hearing aids which can be helpful. Much more sleek and modern hearing aids are currently available. They come with features that improve the quality of life and come in all shapes and sizes. If you can bring a tablet, use a computer or have some brochures that show the different devices which are now available.

Finally, suggest that the first place to begin is at the doctor’s office. Not all hearing loss lasts forever. Rule out earwax build up or medication side effects that may be causing your problem by getting an ear exam. After that the doctor can set up a hearing test, and you can go from there.

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.