Hearing loss is one of the most commonly unaddressed health conditions in Ireland, with 70% of sufferers leaving it more than a year to seek treatment. While hearing loss can be an extremely sensitive topic to bring up, families and friends are an important influence on encouraging people to take action.
You may feel like you are helping by speaking loudly, repeating yourself, and interpreting conversations for your hearing impaired loved on. In fact, by engaging in these behaviours, you are making it easier for them to deny that there is a problem at hand.
While the discussion of hearing loss can be difficult, there are ways to bring it up in a caring and understanding way. Here are some practical tips to encourage your loved one to get the help they need:
- Stop repeating yourself. This may feel a little bit like tough love, but if you eliminate this step and stop saying things twice (unless asked), it forces your loved one to say, “Excuse me?” This simple exchange makes it easier to start the conversation about a possible need for hearing aids.
- Don’t shout. You may not even realise that you are doing it, but if you’re going to bed with a sore throat at the end of a day spent with your family member you are enabling them to deny the problem.
- Be informed. If you are reading this article, you are on the right track. Looking up local audiologists and hearing aid options prior to opening the door to this discussion will make presenting the problem easier. Nothing goes better with a problem than a list of solutions.
- Write it down. Having a conversation about hearing loss might just be an exercise in frustration. Try writing down your concerns with some reasonable suggestions for how to seek help.
- Be sensitive. Try to imagine how socially isolating and difficult it must be for your loved one. Many people decide to address their hearing loss based on the concerns of their family members, but being pushy or bossy at this point will most likely have an adverse effect on your loved one.
- Be direct. Make sure your hearing impaired family member understands that you believe communication could be easier, and less stressful. Make sure they understand the impact their hearing loss is having on your relationship.
It may not be an easy topic to address at first, but getting your loved one to an audiologist and on the path to improved hearing can make a world of difference as untreated hearing loss can lead to further frustration and social isolation. If someone you know could benefit from a hearing test contact your local Hidden Hearing branch for a free appointment. It may also be helpful to go along with them for support. Anybody who might be concerned about their hearing, can avail of a free hearing test at any Hidden Hearing branch nationwide. You can book a hearing test free of charge at any of Hidden Hearing’s 60 clinics nationwide. Freephone 1800 370 000 or visit www.hiddenhearing.ie.