Talking to a loved one about hearing loss
Talking to a loved one about hearing loss can be a challenging conversation. Bupa Audiologist Simon Davis provides some tips which may help.
Sometimes it can seem like the harder you push someone to seek help for hearing loss, the more they insist there is nothing wrong.
While everyone is different, these suggestions might encourage your loved one to have their hearing checked.
Focus on quality of life
No one likes to admit there is a problem with their hearing, but if you frame the conversation in a way that focuses on improving a person’s quality of life, it can sound more encouraging rather than lecturing.
“You might explain that the person is missing out on conversations at family functions, or that they’re not hearing their grandkids and that you want them to feel included,” says Davis.
Often the problems are not just limited to home and social settings. You may notice a colleague having increased difficulties at work in meetings and in general conversation. This can certainly impact on career advancement because hearing loss is often miss-interpreted as people either being uninterested or rude. Raising this issue with a work colleague can be challenging but sensitively is the key.
Having a chat over lunch and mentioning that the person seems to be having a few issues hearing everything that is discussed may be one way. Also asking “Is everything OK?’’ is better than just telling them they have a problem.
Another important thing to think about is safety. If their hearing loss is of a degree that they are not hearing the doorbell or traffic then this is clearly a big problem.
“If the person’s hearing loss is significant enough to affect the person’s safety, then I think you can be a little more insistent,” says Davis.
Talk to the GP
While your loved one may not always take your word for it, they might be more inclined to take advice from their GP.
If you know a loved one is visiting their doctor for their regular check-up, why not encourage them to ask about having their hearing checked?
“In my experience the more senior population really value the opinion of their local doctor or GP. They frequently have good and established relationships and will confide in their GP,” says Davis.
“I would say to someone who was having a significant amount of trouble with a loved one ‘Why don’t you speak to your GP?’” he says. “It’s quite possible they will take their doctor’s advice rather than yours.”
Talk to the family
If it’s just you who has pointed out your loved one’s hearing loss, it might be a good idea to talk to the family about trying a different tack.
Perhaps there are certain family members who are more tactful or influential than others.
“We don’t want the person to feel like people are ganging up on them,” says Davis, “but if it’s coming from more than one source it’s harder to ignore.”
Talk about technology
Modern day hearing aids have come a long way in recent years.
“Hearing aids aren’t embarrassing anymore, they are amazing,” says Davis. “Sometimes I accidently wear one home after showing a client how they look because they’re so small, discrete and comfortable you just don’t really notice them.”
“They are modern, high fidelity, aesthetically amazing devices which make your quality of life better,” he says.
Support at the appointment
It’s important your loved one has support when they go to their appointment, so why not offer to take them?
“From my experience, it makes a huge difference when a loved one comes along to the audiologist appointment,” says Davis. “Not only is it harder to deny the problem if a loved one is there, it’s really important the person feels supported.”
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