How to talk to a loved one about the difficult subject of hearing loss

(BPT) – Full of festive gatherings, this time of year brings us close to friends and family. But if you know someone suffering from hearing loss, it may be hard for you both to fully enjoy time together. You can help improve your loved one’s quality of life by addressing the problem with understanding and care. With a few simple steps, you can start the conversation and help find a solution.

From not being able to hear during family dinners and having grandkids disinterested in conversations due to lack of understanding to requiring the TV or radio to be unreasonably loud, a number of different scenarios can be indications of just how much hearing loss affects normal activities and communication.

Rather than simply applying short-term solutions, such as speaking louder, leaving the room when the TV is on or repeating yourself constantly, help a loved one find a better solution. When approaching someone about hearing loss, remember he or she may be in denial or self-conscious about the problem. Here are a few steps to follow to help the process go smoothly:

Step 1: Conversation starters

Using the phrase “I’ve noticed recently…” is a great conversation starter. Give real examples that demonstrate the hearing problem: for example, explain how you’ve noticed the grandchildren don’t want to play games with Grandma or Grandpa any longer because they get frustrated they can’t be heard. Or, perhaps you’ve noticed the person isn’t talking on the phone much anymore; suggest that you’re worried about him or her becoming withdrawn or isolated from friends.

Step 2: Conduct a casual hearing test

After you’ve had the initial conversation, a person with hearing loss may still be hesitant to visit a hearing care professional, so an easy interim step is to go online and conduct a hearing test in the comfort of your own home. Visit and have your loved one answer five short questions and then listen to a series of tones. It only takes a few minutes and will give you both a basic understanding of any hearing loss issue that exists. It also provides an idea of what some parts of a professional hearing evaluation might be like to reduce fears. While online, you can browse through different types of hearing aids to see how advanced technology is creating virtually invisible, easy-to-use options for anyone.

Step 3: Make an appointment

Hearing loss can affect a person’s ability to learn, socialize and enjoy life. It also can affect personal safety, such as when important phone calls or alarms are not heard. Help your loved one make an appointment with a hearing care professional for an expert diagnosis so the hearing loss can be addressed. If your loved one has a trusted physician, see if there is a hearing care professional he or she recommends. Then offer to take your loved one to the appointment – this not only provides support during a difficult time, but also ensures that the appointment isn’t missed. At the appointment, feel free to ask questions about treatments and different hearing aid options.

Remember, hearing loss is cumulative. By allowing loved ones to ignore the issue and delay treatment, the problem and its impacts will continue to grow. By offering your support and helping a special loved one find a solution, you both benefit from better communication and hopefully a renewed connection.

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