Although hearing loss primarily affects the individual, it can also have a profound effect on the family and loved ones. Not only do we empathize with the struggle to hear in the situations that used to be so easy, some people with hearing loss become frustrated and even angry at the change in ability. Although they used to be able to easily hear someone talking in another room, this newfound struggle can lead to confusion, miscommunication, and strained relationships. If you are concerned that your loved one might be experiencing hearing loss, it is important to engage in a conversation with care and thoughtfulness. The following tips are essential to keep in mind when engaging with your loved one about the possibility of hearing loss.
If you are ready to talk to your loved one about the necessity of taking a hearing test, take some time to research the process and some of the options that are out there. You don’t need to become an expert, but you will want to have some of the basics in mind before you begin the discussion. Your loved one may have some questions that you can answer before the date of the hearing test, and this information can set all parties at ease.
Choose the Right Time and Place
We all know that context matters when it comes to communication. Particularly when it comes to hearing loss, it is essential to find a quiet and calm place to talk. Choose a location where it is easy to chat, usually at home with the television and other devices off. Be sure to look directly at your loved one, because face-to-face conversation is often the best way to assist communication with a person who has hearing loss.
Communicate Your Questions
Rather than opening up with a directive that your loved one should get a hearing test, why not begin with some questions? Simply ask your loved one if they have noticed a time recently when it was difficult to hear. By opening with a question, your loved one will feel empowered to describe specific experiences. It is possible that your loved one might become defensive or even reject the question out of hand. If that happens, it is okay to wait until another time. Simply by introducing the idea, you have planted the seed for future conversations about treatment.
When you ask questions, don’t forget to listen carefully to the response. Perhaps you expect your loved one to say that they have hearing loss and are ready to take an exam. Although this is possible, your loved one might describe other experiences that are important to keep in mind. For instance, a person with hearing loss might only find it difficult in very specific situations, such as when trying to converse in a noisy environment. On the other hand, the problem might have to do with tinnitus, in other words ringing in the ears. In these cases, you will want to remember exactly what your loved one described so that you can report back with the details during your visit. Keeping in mind these details will not only make the process easier for all involved, but it can even increase the success of treatment by pairing your loved one with the right devices.
Count Your Blessings
Throughout the conversation, remaining positive and focusing on how much you care can work wonders. Be sure to remind your loved one how important they are to you, emphasizing that you have their best interest in mind. While you eagerly away the regained conversational ability, do your best not to become frustrated or to lash out at your loved one with hearing loss. The frustration they feel happens at a deep level of isolation and limitation, so the best you can do is focus on how much you value your relationship. The hearing test itself is painless, easy, and quick, and you might even find that it is a nice time to connect with your loved one. Planning ahead to attend the appointment together will be a powerful way to communicate how much you care for your loved one with hearing loss.