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

Someone you love has hearing loss, now what should you do? Hearing loss commonly goes overlooked by those who suffer from it and that makes it much more difficult to talk about. Ignoring this difficult 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 talk about it. Think about these suggestions to help get you there.

Do the Research

You should understand the issue first if you want to be able to explain it. As people grow older, the risk of loss of hearing increase for them. About one person out of every three have some degree of hearing reduction by the time they reach the age of 74 and greater than half suffer from it after the age of 75.

This form of ear damage is called presbycusis. The effect is gradual and normally affects both ears similarly. Chances are this person started losing some hearing years before anyone noticed.

There are many reasons presbycusis occurs. The most basic explanation for age-related hearing loss is that decades of sound eventually breaks down delicate mechanisms of the ear, particularly the little hair cells. Electrical messages are produced which 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 following chronic illnesses can also play a role:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure

Hearing is reduced and the ear can be hurt by all of these.

Make a Date

What you say to your loved one is important however it’s equally important where you have the conversation. Setting something up so you can have a conversation is your best bet. To guarantee you won’t be interrupted, select a quiet spot. Bring along whatever literature you can on the topic too. For example, the doctor might have a brochure that explains presbycusis.

Let’s Discuss the Whys

Expect this person will be a little defensive. Because it is associated with aging, loss of hearing can be a sensitive topic. Getting older is a tough thing to accept. Senior citizens struggle to stay in control of their daily lives and they may believe poor hearing challenges that freedom.

Be prepared to provide specifics as to how you know they have some hearing problems.

They will need 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. Be patient and understanding as you put everything into perspective.

Now it’s Time to Listen

Be ready to sit back and listen once you have said what you need to say. Your family member might have noticed some changes and could have other worries but doesn’t know what to do. To help them come to a realization concerning their hearing loss, ask questions that encourage them to keep talking.

Let Them Know They Have a Support System

The most difficult obstacle is going to be getting past the fear that comes with hearing loss. Many people feel on their own with their condition and don’t realize they have family and friends who will be there for them. Remind them of how other family members have found ways to cope with the same issue.

Be Prepared to Offer Solutions

The most important part of this discussion is going to be what should be done next. Let your loved one know that hearing loss is not the end of the world. There are a lot of available tools including hearing aids which can be helpful. Much more sleek and modern hearing aids are now available. They come in many sizes and shapes and with features that improve the quality of life. If possible bring a tablet, use a computer or have some brochures that show the different devices that are now available.

Finally, suggest that the first place to begin is at the doctor’s office. Some hearing loss goes away. Rule out earwax build up or medication side effects that might be causing your issue by getting an ear exam. Then the doctor can schedule 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.