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

What is the best thing to do when you recognize that someone you love is suffering from hearing loss? It’s not an easy thing to talk about because frequently those who are gradually losing their hearing don’t recognize it. It’s a frustrating issue for the whole family and ignoring it isn’t the answer. Your family member’s life will be improved by the things you do now so don’t wait to find a way to talk about it. To help get you there, consider these suggestions.

Do the Research

Outlining the issue is much easier if you first understand it. When you get older your chance of suffering from hearing loss raises. About one person out of every three suffer from some degree of hearing loss by the time they reach the age of 74 and greater than half have it after the age of 75.

The medical term for this form of ear damage is presbycusis. It typically happens in both ears equally, and the effect is gradual. Years before anyone detected it, it’s likely that this person started losing their hearing.

There are numerous reasons why presbycusis happens. The most basic explanation for age-related hearing loss is that many years of sound takes its toll on the delicate mechanisms of the ear, specifically the tiny hair cells. Electrical messages are produced which go to the brain. The brain receives the message and translates them into what you know as sound. Without those hair cells, hearing is not possible.

The following chronic illnesses can also play a role:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes

Each one can harm the ear and reduce hearing.

Set a Date

What you say to your loved one is important but it’s also important where you have the discussion. Scheduling something so you can have a talk is your best bet. It’s important not to be interrupted so pick a quiet venue. Bringing literature on the topic is also quite helpful. For example, the doctor may have a brochure that explains presbycusis.

Let’s Discuss the Whys

Expect this person will be a little defensive. Because it is related to aging, loss of hearing can be a sensitive matter. It’s difficult to accept that you are growing older. Senior citizens 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 sound like you’re complaining, keep it casual. As you comprehend and put everything into perspective, be patient.

Now it’s Time to Listen

After you have said what you need to, be prepared to settle-back and listen. Your family member might share concerns or say they have noticed some changes but were unsure what they should do. Ask questions that will encourage this person to continue talking about what they’re going through to help make it real to them.

Let Them Know They Have a Support System

The greatest challenge is going to be going beyond the fear that comes with hearing loss. Many people don’t recognize that they have family and friends on their side and feel alone with their condition. Talk to them about others in the family that have had similar experiences and how they found ways to live with hearing loss.

Be Prepared to Offer Solutions

The most important part of this conversation is going to be what should be done next. Let your loved one know that hearing loss isn’t the end of the world. There are plenty of tools available to help, such as hearing aids. Today’s hearing aids are modern and sleek. They come in all sizes and shapes and with features that improve the quality of life. If possible bring a tablet, use a computer or have some brochures that show the various devices which are now available.

Finally, suggest that the first place to start is at the doctor’s office. Some hearing loss goes away. Get an ear exam and rule out things such as ear wax build up and medication that may be causing the problem. A hearing exam can then be set up and you will know for sure.