Encouraging a Loved One to Take a Hearing Test
Hearing loss is incredibly common, yet sorely undertreated. Age-related hearing loss, the most common form of hearing loss, affects nearly half of those over age 65. Still, only about one out of five people who need hearing aids is currently wearing them, and it takes an average of seven years from the time a person notices hearing loss to the time they seek out a set of hearing aids.
Seven years is a long time. A lot can change about a person’s lifestyle, habits, and brain over the course of seven years, and we would hope for as many of those things to be positive as possible. Unfortunately, untreated hearing loss often has the opposite effect. Untreated hearing loss tends to limit mobility, reduce sociability, impair memory, and can have a host of other negative effects on our physical health and general well-being.
It’s usually someone other than the person with hearing loss who notices it first. If you’ve already brought up the possibility that your loved one might have hearing loss and been met with denial—or worse—understandably, you may be concerned for them. Ultimately, the decision to pursue treatment for hearing loss is theirs to make, but it’s important to do everything you can to help them see their way clear to the right decision.
Consider the guidelines below when planning to talk about treating hearing loss with your loved one. There are no guarantees when it comes to influencing others’ behavior, but by preparing yourself and knowing what you wish to communicate, you’ll be in the best position to help your loved one see how important it is to treat their hearing loss.
Do Your Research
There are lots of resources online to find information about hearing loss. Come prepared with information about the problems that untreated hearing loss can cause, but also about how hearing aids can help people lead happier lives. Did you know, for example, that 95% of hearing aid wearers are glad they started wearing hearing aids when asked after one year? Hearing aids also tend to help people feel more confident and independent. These tidbits are just the tip of the iceberg! Find some information that will get them thinking about how hearing aids could improve their lives, and they just might start to consider them more seriously.
Choose the Right Set and Setting
Hearing loss is exhausting, and it can be very difficult for someone with hearing loss to follow a conversation when conditions aren’t just right. This conversation isn’t the time to point out how difficult it is for them to understand what you’re saying. You want them to hear you clearly and easily, so they can be more thoughtful about what you’re saying.
Have the conversation in a quiet environment, perhaps in their home or yours. Minimize distractions and background sounds. Turn off the TV or radio. Sit facing each other with plenty of light, so they can read your lips, and stay away from air conditioners, humidifiers, or other noisy household appliances. Speak clearly and loudly enough to be heard, but don’t yell. Leave a little space between your sentences for them to process what you’re saying.
Talk About Yourself
Some people may not realize how much their hearing loss affects others. Without blaming them, bring up some times when their hearing loss made things more difficult for you, or when you saw it make things more difficult for them. Focus on your concern for them, but also let them know that treating their hearing loss would be good for both of you.
Ask Questions, and Let Them Speak
Hearing loss can be scary. There are likely things they wish to say, but it may be difficult to get started. Ask them what they think of what you have said, or if they can think of times when their hearing may have given them problems.
Once the conversation is happening, they may find the opportunity to give a voice for the first time to some fears and concerns they’ve had for a long time. Try not to interject, debate, or otherwise interrupt this flow. Let them articulate what they are feeling, and they may come to a position of greater understanding.
Offer Your Support
If you or a loved one needs hearing loss treatment, make an appointment for a hearing test today and find out what hearing aids can do to improve your life—and your relationships with those you hold dear.