senior couple looking at laptop together

Supporting a Loved One with Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can be difficult to self-diagnose, making it common for those with an issue to go years without treatment. However, it’s often much easier for you to spot the signs of hearing loss in someone you love. Hearing loss can occur at any age, so it’s important to pay attention to the signs and urge your loved one to address the issue, before it becomes a larger one, which may take more effort to undo. In some cases, the impact on your health and quality of life is irreversible. This can include rifts in relationships, loss of earnings at work and chronic depression as well as higher rates of dementia and accidents in those with untreated hearing loss.

However, first and foremost hearing loss is a quality of life issue. Living or working with someone who has unaddressed hearing loss can be frustrating at times. It’s tempting to lose your temper at times, but I assure you this won’t help anything. Here are a few strategies to help support someone in your life who lives with hearing loss.

Acknowledge their hearing loss

Hearing loss can often be the elephant in the room. It may seem obvious to you, but it may not to them. This is because in many instances hearing loss develops slowly allowing our minds to rationalize the subtle loss which builds up over time. Pointing out that they may have a hearing loss is important to the likelihood that they will treat it. In fact, often, when you pretend that nothing is wrong it helps a cycle of untreated hearing loss.

Discuss hearing aids

90 percent of cases of hearing loss are considered sensorineural. This is a condition in which the tiny cells of the inner ear which send sound from the ears to the brain, become damaged, inhibiting the delivery of sound. Your hearing loss is not going anywhere in these cases, meaning to get sounds back that you want to hear, hearing aids can help significantly. Regular use of hearing aids has been shown to increase connection with people throughout your life, reduce the risk of lost earnings and even decrease the chances of developing dementia. Suggest hearing aids to your loved one, next time you notice they are struggling to hear.

Hearing aids are digital wonders in microprocessing. These tiny computers fit in or around your ear canal and can be programmed, based on your last hearing exam to amplify the sounds you need. However, only about 17% of Americans ages 20 to 69 who need hearing aids ever use them and this number rises for those 70 and older to approximately 30%!

Modify how you communicate

Hearing aids can be a big help but hearing even with amplification can be difficult sometimes—especially in noisy environments. Still, miscommunications around hearing loss can happen even with the most state of the art hearing aid every now and then. To make it easier for your loved one to follow you, it’s important to consider adopting some of these communication techniques, which will make it easier for anyone with hearing loss to follow you with added confidence and awareness of its situations.

with hearing loss. But even if your loved one wears them, there will still be times when they can’t hear or communicate as well as they would like. You can change your own style to try to make sure your loved one understands what you’re saying. Whenever possible:

  • Face your loved one directly.
  • Avoid attempting to communicate in noisy settings. If possible, you may move to a quieter room in order for your loved one to follow clearer.
  • Ask if there’s anything that would help them communicate. (For example, maybe they would like to move to a quieter room.)
  • Make sure they have a clear view of your face. This will allow them to use visual cues such as lip reading, body language and facial expression to supplement what we can’t hear.
  • Speak clearly at a moderate pace. Many people think they need to shout at people with hearing loss, however, don’t over-emphasize words, overcompensate, or shout as this can distort lip shape making it harder to lipread.

Encourage them to seek support. 

Most people wait seven to ten years from the time they suspect they have a hearing loss to act. Help your loved one get the help they need sooner. If you suspect that your loved one has hearing loss, gently suggest that they schedule a hearing exam with us today!