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How To Talk To Someone About Hearing Loss

Hearing is precious! It’s an extraordinary sense that connects people to their surroundings, and the world. But when your hearing starts to fade and everyday sounds start to go by unnoticed, it can have an unwanted effect physically, emotionally, and socially. However, some people feel that hearing loss only affects the individual experiencing the loss, but that is simply not true. Hearing loss not only has a profound impact on the individual’s wellbeing, but on their friends and family as well.

Individuals with hearing loss often report feeling isolated, and sometimes depressed or anxious. They start to avoid social activities they once enjoyed out of frustration, or simply exhaustion, due to straining to hear all the time.  Additionally, those close to the hearing impaired person such as family members can also be affected.

Some of the emotions that friends and family have expressed when their loved one has untreated hearing loss range from being annoyed, irritated, frustration, and even anger. These emotions can negatively affect relationships and can cause conflict between loved ones.

Convincing someone to seek the help they need to address their hearing loss can sometimes be difficult.  The following tips are helpful when dealing with individuals who are hearing impaired.

Things You Can Do To Help:

The first important point is to not enable the hearing impaired individual by acting as that person’s hearing aid.  Always translating and repeating yourself are well-intended efforts, but they don’t allow your loved one to realize how much communication they fail to understand or miss completely.

It is important to have an honest discussion about the impact the hearing loss is having on everybody’s quality of life.  Gently remind the hearing impaired individual of the loss every time you are asked to translate or repeat something for them. Recommend a visit to a regulated Audiologist, offer to drive and attend the appointment with them. Finally, remind them that they have nothing to lose by seeing a regulated Audiologist. The Audiologist can perform the necessary tests and explain the available options with no pressure or obligation to do anything.

The most common reaction to someone with hearing loss is resistance to doing something about it. Unlike eyesight, when hearing goes, people are less likely to get it corrected right away. In fact, people with hearing loss often wait 5-7 years before addressing their hearing difficulties. “The general perception is that hearing loss is a relatively inconsequential part of aging,” says Frank Lin, an otologist and epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. But recent findings, he says, suggest that it may play a much more important role in brain health than we’ve previously thought.

Two studies from Johns Hopkins are revealing in the information obtained. One study found that hearing loss is associated with accelerated cognitive decline in older adults and that seniors with hearing loss are significantly more likely to develop dementia over time than those who retain their hearing. Another study revealed a link between hearing loss and accelerated brain tissue loss. The researchers found that for older adults with hearing loss, brain tissue loss happens faster than it does for those with normal hearing. Research is ongoing, but the importance of treating hearing loss cannot be understated.

Today’s hearing aids are sleek, discreet, and some are even invisible.  They are less noticeable than if you constantly need repetition, frequently misunderstand words spoken to you, inappropriately respond, or fail to respond at all. Left untreated, hearing loss can negatively impact one’s quality of life in many different ways.

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Hamilton, Ontario, L8V 4S9
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