How Should You Approach a Loved One About Their Hearing Loss?

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 someone you love is suffering from hearing loss? Usually, people who have slow hearing loss don’t recognize it so that makes it a hard subject to talk about. Ignoring this frustrating issue is not helpful for anyone involved. The things you do now will enhance the lives of your parent, spouse, sibling or friend and it begins with discovering a way to talk about it. To help get you there, consider these suggestions.

Study More so You Can Discuss it Better

Discussing the problem is much easier if you first understand it. When you grow older your chance of getting hearing loss increases. About one person out of every three have some degree of hearing loss by the time they are 74 and more than half have it after they reach the age of 75.

Presbycusis is the scientific name for this form of ear damage. It usually occurs in both ears equally, and the effect is gradual. It’s likely that this person started losing some hearing years before anybody noticed.

There are numerous reasons presbycusis happens. The most basic reason for age-related hearing loss is that years of sound takes its toll on the delicate mechanisms of the ear, specifically the tiny hair cells. The brain gets electrical messages that are generated by these little hair cells. The brain gets the signals and translates them into what you know as sound. Those hairs are an essential factor of hearing.

The following chronic health problems can also play a role:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease

Each one can harm the ear and reduce hearing.

Make a Date

The place where you decide to have a discussion with your loved one is just as important as what you say. Setting something up so you can have a conversation is your best bet. To ensure you won’t be interrupted, find a quiet venue. Bring with you any written material you can on the topic too. For example, the doctor might have a brochure that clarifies presbycusis.

Let’s Discuss the Whys

Expect this person will be a little defensive. Loss of hearing is a sensitive subject because it is related to getting old. Growing older is a hard thing to acknowledge. Poor hearing may challenge the elderly’s belief that they are in control of their day-to-day lives.

Be ready to offer particulars as to how you know they have some hearing problems.

Remind them how often they ask you and others to repeat what they said. Don’t make it sound like you’re complaining, keep it casual. As you understand and put everything into perspective, be patient.

Sit Back and Listen

After you have said what needs to be said, be prepared to sit back and listen. Your family member might have noticed some changes and may have other worries but doesn’t know what they should do. In order to help them come to a realization about their hearing loss, ask questions that motivate them to keep talking.

Talk About the Support System

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

Come Armed With Solutions

What to do next is going to be the most significant 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 now available. They come with features that improve the quality of life and come in many shapes and sizes. Show them some literature on a computer or brochure detailing the different devices that are available.

Finally, suggest that the first place to start is at the doctor’s office. Not all hearing loss is permanent. Rule out earwax build up or medication side effects that might be causing your issue by getting an ear examination. 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.