An estimated 48 million Americans experience hearing loss, but despite its prevalence, people tend to wait an average of seven years to actually seek treatment. This can be frustrating for loved ones, who often have to contend with being asked to repeat themselves constantly, listen to the TV much louder than is comfortable and take on the bulk of social responsibilities.
It’s important to talk to your loved one about their hearing loss, but only from a place of love. Follow our tips below.
Always Be Supportive
Being diagnosed with hearing loss can be overwhelming, and sometimes even frightening. Above all, let your loved one know they are not alone on their journey. Offer to attend appointments with your loved one, and listen when they tell you about their struggles and anxieties.
Learn What Hearing Loss Is Like
Hearing loss is an isolating experience, especially when the ones you love the most don’t know what you’re going through. So try to put yourself in their shoes – find an online hearing loss stimulator sequence. While tools like these do not capture the full experience of having hearing loss, they will help you understand your loved one’s experience a little better. And when your loved one shares what their experience is like, listen!
It’s true, having to repeat yourself constantly is exhausting. But it’s also exhausting for your conversation partner to ask you to repeat yourself, then work hard to catch your answer. Next time you’re asked to repeat yourself, be patient. Don’t become angry or shout, as this can be hurtful and also distort your speech, making it even harder to make out. Instead, speak only slightly louder and slower, and rephrase if necessary.
Encourage Them to Seek Treatment
If a hearing test reveals your loved one has hearing loss, the audiologist will likely prescribe hearing aids. Unfortunately, there is still some stigma surrounding hearing aid use, and it’s quite likely your loved one will want to shrug off the recommendation. Encourage them to listen to the audiologist and get the help they need. Left untreated, hearing loss can have devastating impacts, such as social withdrawal, anxiety, depression and even cognitive decline.