Did you know that one in three people over the age of 65 experience some degree of hearing loss? Chances are, there is someone in your life who experiences a hearing loss and might not even know it yet. As an invisible condition, hearing loss affects many different areas of one’s life but is not immediately understood as the root of the problem. If you believe that your loved one may have a hearing loss, it is important to encourage them to take a hearing test. Hearing tests are simple and painless, and they provide useful information on a person’s hearing abilities. Because hearing loss is a sensitive topic, here are a few tips for the conversation.
There is a lot of information online about hearing loss from leading organizations such as the Hearing Loss Association of America and the American Speech Hearing Language Association. Studies are published online about how hearing loss affects your cognitive abilities (Johns Hopkins University), how untreated hearing loss may lead to lower earning power, and how hearing loss has been linked to an increased risk of accidents and falls.
Before talking to your loved one, make sure you have the facts straight about hearing loss. Check to see the signs and symptoms of hearing loss match what you experience with your loved one. Arm yourself with useful statistics and facts about hearing loss that could help encourage your loved one to take a hearing test.
Hearing loss makes speech recognition difficult, as well as hearing in background noise. With hearing loss, people may ask others to repeat themselves or they may check out completely if they cannot compete with background noise to hear. For this reason, it is important to have your conversation in quiet place during a quiet time.
Moreover, hearing loss may be a taboo subject for some. Rather than gathering a huge group of people – which may put your loved one on the defensive – have a one on one conversation so that you can clearly communicate your concerns.
Communication experts tell us that we should frame our statements from our point of view. For instance, rather than saying, “You always ask me to repeat myself,” you might rephrase it as, “It is frustrating for me when I have to repeat myself often.” In this way, your loved one may not feel as though they are being attacked and rather are aware of your experiences when interacting with them.
There are many, many benefits to treating hearing loss. Untreated hearing loss can be a lonely and isolating condition. By affecting how we communicate, people with hearing loss tend to avoid social settings, which could lead to a breakdown in their friendships and relationships. Treating hearing loss helps people stay in touch with their loved ones and ensures that they are connected to their communities.
Studies from Finland have indicated that people who do not treat their hearing loss have a smaller “life space” – they are not as mobile as people who treat their hearing or have normal hearing. Hearing loss interferes with our ability to drive and communicate, and also leads to a higher rate of accidents and falls. By treating hearing loss, your loved one would be investing in their own independence and security.
After you’ve made your case, give your loved one the opportunity to respond. Chances are they have already noticed changes in their hearing and have been accommodating the changes – whether consciously or unconsciously. Hearing loss is considered a medical condition, and it is the third most common one in the United States. It is normal to feel anxious about hearing loss, and your loved one may want to share their feelings about their experiences.
Ask open-ended questions, which encourage your loved one to open up and expand on their experiences.
Taking a hearing test is a simple and painless procedure, but of course there’s more to it than just the test. Ensure your loved one that you will be there to support them on every step of their journey to better hearing – from making the appointment, to accompanying them to the hearing test, and – if a hearing loss is detected – helping them adjust to their new hearing aids.
To begin the process, schedule a consultation, or talk to a hearing expert, contact us at Hearing Aid specialists of the Central Coast today.