How to Talk to a Loved One About Their Loss of Hearing

Husband talking to his wife about her hearing loss and how to get help.

What is the best thing you can do when you realize that someone you love is suffering from hearing loss? Hearing loss often goes undetected by those who suffer from it and that makes it much more difficult to bring up. It’s a frustrating problem for the whole family and ignoring it isn’t the way to go. The things you do now will improve the lives of your parent, spouse, sibling or friend and it starts with finding a way to talk about it. To help get you there, think about these guidelines.

Do the Research

To start with, you should understand what is taking place yourself so you are able to describe it. As people get older, the risk of loss of hearing increase for them. About one person out of every three have some amount of hearing reduction by the time they reach the age of 74 and more than half have it after the age of 75.

This kind of ear damage is called presbycusis. It usually occurs in both ears equally, and the effect is gradual. Years before anyone detected it, it’s likely that this person started losing their hearing.

Persbyscusis happens for many reasons. The most basic reason for age-related hearing loss is that decades of sound takes its toll on the delicate mechanisms of the ear, specifically the little hair cells. Electrical messages are created that go to the brain. The brain gets the message and translates them into what you know as sound. Those hairs are an essential element of hearing.

The impact of chronic illnesses like:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease

Hearing is reduced and the ear can be damaged by all of these.

Make a Date

Where you choose to have a talk with your loved one is just as important as what you say. Scheduling something so you can have a conversation is the best bet. Find a setting that is quiet and ensures you won’t be disturbed. Bring along any written material you can on the topic too. For instance, the doctor may have a brochure that explains presbycusis.

Let’s Discuss the Whys

The response you can expect at first is for the person to be defensive. Because it is associated with aging, loss of hearing can be a sensitive subject. Growing older is a hard thing to accept. The elderly struggle to stay in control of their daily lives and they may believe poor hearing challenges that freedom.

Be prepared to offer specifics as to how you know they have some hearing problems.

Mention that you need to keep repeating yourself during conversations, too. Don’t make it seem like you’re complaining, keep it casual. Be patient and understanding as you put everything into perspective.

Now it’s Time to Listen

Once you have said what needs to be said, be ready to sit back and listen. Your family member might have noticed some changes and may have other concern but doesn’t know what to do. In order to help them come to a realization concerning their hearing loss, ask questions which motivate them to keep talking.

Let Them Know They Have a Support System

Getting past the fear that comes with hearing loss is going to be the biggest challenge. Many people feel isolated with their problem and don’t recognize they have family and friends who will be there for them. Remind them of how other family members have discovered ways to cope with the same problem.

Come Armed With Solutions

What to do next is going to be the most important part of the conversation. Hearing loss is not the end of the world so let your loved one know that. There are a lot of available tools such as hearing aids which can be helpful. Much more sleek and modern hearing aids are now available. They come in all sizes and shapes and with features that improve the quality of life. Show them some literature on a computer or brochure detailing the different devices that are available.

Seeing a doctor is the first step. Not all hearing loss lasts forever. Have an ear exam to rule out things such as ear wax build up and medication that might be causing the issue. Then the doctor can schedule a hearing test, and you can go from there.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.