On average, it takes up to seven years before most people do anything about their hearing loss. After living a full life of hearing, it can be very difficult to accept that your hearing may be deteriorating. But some of us just need that little extra bit of support and a push to take action.
This article is here to help, especially if you're reading because you think a loved one is experiencing hearing loss. It's understandable that you may be frustrated but it's always good to be mindful of the fact that this can be a very sensitive topic and for many people, an uncomfortable subject to talk about.
The most suitable course of action to begin their road to better hearing health is to start with a audiology test. But how do you approach this very personal topic? Here are some ideas to start a conversation with them.
How it impacts them
Although dealing with their hearing loss can be irritating for you, it's disheartening when you notice what your loved one is missing out on due to their condition. From finding it difficult to keep up conversations to avoiding social gatherings and family events, it can be a good idea to show them specific examples of what they're missing out on. Many people experiencing hearing loss often do not realise the problems they're facing are as a result of their loss. Taking a look into the different signs of hearing loss [http://www.bayaudiology.co.nz/signs-hearing-loss] and discussing what signs they're showing, such as an impaired ability to communicate, can be helpful in showing them that the extent of their loss.
How it impacts others
Many people who are experiencing hearing loss will not realise the degree of their loss and be unaware of the impact it has on others. So it's important to make sure they understand that it is not just affecting them. Again, it's a good idea to show them specific examples such as when you've had to change how you interact with them and some activities that you no longer can do with them.
How important hearing is
Problems in communication and alertness that you would've brought to their attention through the previous two sections should indicate to them quite clearly the value of hearing. Alongside this, stressing how changes to their hearing will be extremely beneficial to not only them but also for others should encourage them to take action.
Still, there may be some misconceptions that they have about the stigma surrounding hearing loss. A common comparison to counter this can be made between wearing hearing aids and wearing glasses. Most people choose not to neglect their eyesight, taking measures to test their eyes and get glasses at the first sign of blurriness. Hearing aids should be considered in very much the same way as a preventative measure against any signs of hearing loss.
Hearing loss is common
Understanding that you're not alone in facing a problem can be very comforting. Let your loved one know that they're not alone and that hearing loss is a common issue experienced by a large proportion of the population, usually up to 20% in different areas across the world. Moreover, it is a natural part of the aging process experienced differently by everyone. And although others may experience it, not everyone will receive the same forms of treatment. However, there are common steps to preventing hearing loss [http://www.nhc.com.au/how-hearing-works#5] that everyone can take to ensure that their loss isn't worsened. And although it is important that you advise your loved one to visit a health professional, there are methods of prevention that can be used immediately to start taking action against hearing loss.
When approaching this conversation, again, remember to be wary of the fact that they may have already noticed their hearing loss but aren't ready to acknowledge the problem. Still, try to encourage them that it's in their best interest to get a hearing check and start taking action against their hearing loss. But most importantly, let them know that you care.
Other Resources: Better Hearing Institute. (2016). Consequences of Hearing Loss [online]. Available at: http://www.betterhearing.org/hearingpedia/consequences-hearing-loss