Though hearing loss is the third most common medical condition in the United States, it is often undiagnosed and undertreated. This is due to the fact that it is an invisible condition, and as a result, people with hearing loss tend to make accommodations in conversation and in the workplace. Unfortunately, untreated hearing loss leads to a number of communication issues, from asking people to repeat themselves often to being unable to follow conversations in noisy places to misunderstanding what has been said.
Over time, untreated hearing loss can lead to a breakdown in our most important relationships, as people are unable to converse easily with their loved ones. In turn, this could lead to social withdrawal, so as to avoid awkward interactions with miscommunication.
If you’ve noticed that a loved one has been exhibiting the signs of hearing loss – turning up the volume high on the TV and phone and radio; asking you to repeat yourself often; avoiding social gatherings and interactions – you may want to address the issue and encourage your loved one to seek treatment. Hearing loss can be a sensitive topic, due to its correlation with aging. Here are some tips for encouraging your loved one to take a hearing test.
Do Your Research
Before talking to your loved one, take some time to research the facts of hearing loss. Check out sites such as the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) and the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). There you’ll find information on the signs of hearing loss, the consequences of leaving hearing loss untreated, and the different types and causes of hearing loss. All of this could be helpful when you decide to sit down and talk to your loved one.
Hearing specialists encourage people to take hearing tests early and annually. Because hearing loss greatly affects people over the age of 65, it is advised to take annual hearing tests from age 50 onward. This way, you can monitor your hearing abilities and seek treatment at the first sign of hearing loss. Treating hearing loss early brings significant benefits to your overall health and well-being.
Pick a Quiet Time and Place
With the understanding that hearing loss creates challenges with communication, you’ll want to pick a time and place that is quiet for a one-on-one conversation with your loved one. A group conversation may feel too much like an intervention, and it is difficult for people with hearing loss to follow conversations with many different speakers. One-on-one gives you a little more privacy to discuss this sensitive topic.
Use “I” Statements
Using “I” statements is a great way to re-frame the problem from your point of view. For example, rather than saying “You always ask me to repeat myself,” you may want to say, “I’ve noticed that when we’re talking, I find that I must repeat myself often.” Framing this from a point of concern that you have takes a little bit of the pressure off of your loved one, who may already be feeling sensitive about the topic.
Listen and Ask Open-Ended Questions
After you’ve expressed your concern, give your loved one the opportunity to talk. Chances are they have already noticed changes in their hearing and they may be worried or anxious about seeking treatment. Try not to interrupt your loved one, and if possible, ask them open-ended questions to encourage them to share more of their experience.
Encourage Your Loved One to Take a Hearing Test
Hearing tests are painless and quick, and they provide a great deal of information about one’s hearing abilities. Hearing tests are also the first step toward improving one’s hearing health. Encourage your loved one to take a hearing test as soon as possible. Use this opportunity to share some of the research you’ve done about the benefits of treating hearing loss. For example, treating hearing loss improves one’s earning power in the workplace, makes it easier to reconnect with friends and loved ones, and even ensures one’s personal safety.
Offer Your Support & Contact Us at Beverly Hills Hearing Center
If your loved one is amenable, offer to support them on their journey to better hearing health. To schedule a hearing test, contact us at Beverly Hills Hearing Center. Our team is here to support you and your loved one with comprehensive hearing tests and hearing aid fittings. Give us a call today to make an appointment!