How To Help Your Loved Ones With Hearing LossMar 05, 2015
As the caregiver or loved one of someone with hearing loss, you know the challenges and struggles of trying to help them take charge of their hearing. In this article you will learn some things you can do to help them on their path to better hearing health.
If your loved one is refusing to get help for their hearing loss, they are not alone. Of the 27 million Americans over age 50 who have hearing loss, only about 15 percent wear hearing aids. And most people with hearing loss wait for seven to ten years before getting their hearing checked. But what can you do to help your loved one get the help they need?
Stop Being a Living Hearing Aid
Dr. Eric Hagberg, former president of the Academy of Doctors of Audiology, advises caregivers first and most importantly: “Stop being a living hearing aid. Everybody has one – a seemingly helpful caregiver, husband or wife who feeds back the information so the other person doesn’t need to ask for help.”
While it's understandable why people enable their loved ones by speaking louder, repeating things or relaying missed information, it doesn’t help the person with hearing loss when a caregiver acts like a crutch. Not enabling a person with hearing loss can help them accept that their hearing is diminished and that the impairment needs to be addressed.
Have Them Pay Attention to Things They're Missing
Many people resist being fitted for hearing aids even after their hearing tests show diminished hearing. Dr. Hagberg says, “I tell patients who deny they have a problem, even after testing, to go home and pay attention to every time they say, ‘What?’ or they miss the punch line on TV or ask people to repeat something. They usually come back in a week.” Ask your loved one to keep track of how many times they are missing out due to their hearing impairment. It just may help spur them to get the help they need.
Understand the Impacts of Hearing Loss
Make sure your loved ones understand the medical benefits of wearing hearing aids – and the impacts of untreated hearing loss. Living with hearing impairment is shown to increase a person's risk of social isolation, depression and dementia. When your hearing is diminished, the areas of your brain that process sound get smaller and you lose the ability to hear certain sounds. Ultimately, if you don’t use it, you lose it. Hearing aids can stop that from happening and even reverse the process. In addition, a person with untreated hearing loss may not hear a car horn, an alarm or someone calling out a warning, which can put them, or others, in harm's way.
Don't Be a Nag
While it is important to keep an open dialogue with your loved ones about their hearing, it is equally important to make sure that you approach them with love and understanding so they don’t feel like they're being nagged or pressured into doing something they aren’t comfortable with. Someone who already wears hearing aids and has had a positive experience with them can go a long way to persuading someone with hearing loss to take the next step and get hearing aids for themselves.
Mostly, be patient with your loved ones. Remind them that hearing loss, and wearing hearing aids, aren't signs of weakness. Just like wearing glasses to correct your vision, there is no shame in correcting your hearing to live a full and active life.
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