Latest posts by Dr. Michele Schultz, Au.D. (see all)
- #HEARtheMUSIC Project Supports America’s Veterans - October 12, 2018
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- Talking about Hearing Loss: Why Your Disclosure Method Matters - October 12, 2018
These days, if we want to get in touch with someone, we can send a text or FaceTime. We can catch up and have a quick chat in a jiffy. With communication happening at light speed, we may often overlook the difficulties some of our loved ones may experience on a daily basis with communication.
Understanding Hearing Loss
From time to time, you may have become frustrated with a loved one, whether a spouse or a parent, who continually asks you to repeat what you’ve said. For a moment, consider how frustrated – not to mention emotionally distressed and devastated – they must feel with the gradual loss of their hearing.
Although hearing loss is common – affecting 48 million Americans – it does not have to result in a communication breakdown between you and the ones you love. Moreover, once you’ve recognized that your loved ones are struggling with hearing loss, it is natural to want to offer your help and find solutions. This conversation could be challenging, which is why we’ve provided a guide for talking to your loved one about hearing loss.
Do Your Research
A simple search online will give you a lot of information about hearing loss. The Hearing Loss Association of America offers resources and information on their website about hearing loss, related problems, and statistics. Armed with stats and facts, you’ll be able to have an informed and persuasive conversation with your loved one about the importance of getting a hearing test and finding solutions for their hearing loss.
Look for information of new technologies available for individuals experiencing hearing loss. These days, there are Bluetooth compatible hearing aids that stream directly from smartphones! Even more, there are many testimonials online given by individuals who have experienced the benefits of treating hearing loss and have found solutions to improve the quality of their lives. You may even reference people you both know who have sought treatment for hearing loss.
Have an Intentional Conversation in a Quiet Place
For people with hearing loss, speech recognition is a primary challenge. When you decide to talk to your loved one about hearing loss, schedule a quiet time and place to have this conversation. Furthermore, it is important to speak from a place of compassion. It is challenging to converse with people with hearing loss (frustrations may arise from having to repeat yourself often), but keep in mind that your goal is to encourage your loved one to take an important step toward bettering their hearing health.
Listen & Ask Open Ended Questions
Once you’ve expressed your concerns, give your loved one the opportunity to speak. Try to listen without interrupting or interjecting. Though your loved one may be upset or in denial, give them the space to work through these feelings. Ask open-ended questions (as opposed to yes-or-n0 questions) to get more clarification on their experience thus far.
Focus on Solutions and Benefits of Treating Hearing Loss
The main goal is to encourage your loved one to take a hearing test. Hearing tests provide you with important information about your hearing abilities and are the first step to treating hearing loss (if it is detected).
Share the research you’ve found on the benefits of treating hearing loss, and make sure you are using positive language. Rather than focusing on the negative aspects of hearing loss, frame solutions in a positive light. For example, you might say “Studies have shown that treating hearing loss improves communication and keeps people active with their friends and loved ones”, as opposed to “Studies have shown that untreated hearing loss leads to social isolation and an increased risk for dementia.” Just this simple framing in the first example is more optimistic!
Indeed, hearing loss is a difficult challenge to face. However, remind your loved one that they are not alone. Reassure your loved one that you are there to support them. You may want to offer to accompany your loved one to a hearing consultation, as a first step.
Remind your loved one that treating hearing loss is an investment in their health and well-being, and that includes your relationship! Treating hearing loss means they will be better connected, once again, to you and others in your extended family and community.