When you first notice that a loved one appears to have hearing loss, you want to help–but you may also feel awkward about it. Does your friend or family member realize that their hearing has deteriorated? Will they be grateful for your support, or will they feel as though you’re trying to step on their independence? Your desire to help comes from the right place. Ultimately, however, scheduling a hearing test has to be up to the individual–which makes it particularly important that you show your support and approach the situation from the right direction.
1. Do Some Reading
The first step in supporting someone you care about when they suffer from hearing loss is doing your research. Do some reading about the symptoms of hearing loss and how hearing loss can impact people who suffer from it. You may want to consider the different types of hearing loss: some people, for example, struggle to hear sounds of a certain octave, while others struggle more with hearing sounds that are too quiet. You may also want to learn more about the causes of hearing loss (age, illness, long-term exposure to loud noises, or head injury, among others) or the potential symptoms. Do you suspect that your loved one’s hearing loss is mild? Or is it inching into moderate territory? Maybe it’s becoming severe?
By doing your research before you approach a friend or family member, you get a better idea of what they’re facing and how it may impact their life. You can prepare yourself with statistics and get a better idea of the latest advances in technology and how they can conduct effective hearing tests or improve your loved one’s hearing as it starts to deteriorate.
2. Choose the Right Time
Having a conversation with someone you care about concerning hearing loss shouldn’t be done in a hurry, nor should you try to carry on that conversation in a noisy, crowded place where they may grow frustrated while trying to listen to what you have to say. Instead, set aside time to sit down in a quiet, calm environment and have a conversation about their suspected hearing loss. Try to choose a place where both you and your friend or family member will be comfortable, and make sure that neither you nor your loved one needs to rush away to another appointment. You don’t have to schedule a meeting to have a chat about hearing loss, but you should try to choose a good time for the discussion so that neither of you will be on the defensive. Share your concerns openly and honestly, and let them know what symptoms you have noticed. In some cases, your loved one may already be aware of those symptoms, but in others, you may find that they simply haven’t noticed the associated challenges or increase in hearing loss.
In many cases, it’s true that people with hearing loss may not really notice that their hearing has started to deteriorate, especially if the deterioration has been gradual. In other cases, however, your loved one may have already noticed symptoms of hearing loss, or they may have already been evaluated by a doctor. Your loved one may have had a hearing test or may have opted to put the test off for reasons of their own. Take the time to listen to what they have to say about their potential hearing loss. Have an honest, engaged discussion about the symptoms you have observed, the potential challenges hearing loss can create, and how the latest advances in technology can help your loved one hear better.
4. Offer Support
One of the most valuable things you can do for a friend or family member when you suspect hearing loss is offer your support. They may be growing increasingly uncomfortable in noisy environments, or they might be struggling to understand the next steps they need to take. Preparing for a hearing test or scheduling that appointment may be overwhelming. Offer to go along to their hearing test or to appointments, if needed. Ask them what they need to feel supported and cared for during this time. You don’t want to make them feel belittled, but you may be able to help your loved one feel more involved in conversations while they await the results of their hearing test.
Are you or a loved one struggling with hearing loss?
Do you need a hearing test to help determine the extent of that loss?
Are you looking towards taking the first steps toward hearing aids that can help you better interact with the ones you love?
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.
Paula C. Rogers, BC-HIS is a Board Certified Hearing Instrument Specialist and has been helping people to restore and care for their hearing health for over 30 years. You’ll experience the warmth and loving care of Paula and her team who will become your hearing care partners for life at their Las Cruces Hearing Center.