Today we are going to talk about hearing loss and its impact, the common misconceptions around hearing loss and how you can help a loved one with hearing loss.
When we have a problem with our vision or any other problems with our bodies, we will book in to see the optician or the Doctor. This is not always the case with hearing loss.
This is mainly due to the that fact hearing loss happens gradually over time rather than suddenly, so we often struggle to notice the signs and when we do can often be inclined to just put up with it.
As opposed to hearing things a lot quieter (a common misconception about hearing loss) we tend to experience sounds with less clarity. Signs if hearing loss may be things like sounds or speech seeming muffled, you could have trouble making out conversations in busy loud places, or telephone calls may be an issue because you can’t hear the other person properly. You may be more frequently asking the other person to repeat what they have said, or you could find you are needing to have the volume on the TV and radio higher than before.
Hearing Loss and its impact
Hearing loss can impact a loved one is so many ways, including social isolation as they avoid interactions with others because they can’t hear them. Another consequence of hearing loss relates to our memory. Many people are surprised to learn that hearing loss can be closely linked to the onset of Dementia. It is not fully known why people with hearing are more likely to develop Dementia yet, but scientific studies have shown that the use of hearing aids reduces the risk of cognitive decline and development of Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Lots of us suffer like this in silence, which is a shame because there are lots of good hearing aids out there now, they are much more discreet and advanced than way back in the day (often totally different to what many of my patient’s report to have imagined they would look like initially.)
As mentioned, hearing aids were noticeably larger than the ones on offer today, they were often seen a sign of fragility and old age. Typically, the older style hearing aids were viewed as either ugly, for old people and a visible sign you were nearly deaf.
How the times have changed, nowadays modern hearing aids are compact and discreet and much more powerful.
The hearing aids we have today are suitable for all ages, not just the elderly. Some degree of hearing impairment can affect any of us at any time. Nowadays we walk around wearing headphones and Air pods on daily basis, listening to music or a podcast and think nothing of it. Hearing aids are usually much smaller, making them less visible so what really is the difference?
Another big change is that many of the hearing aids out there no longer require batteries as they are rechargeable and easier to use. It’s common for people to think that new technology means that they will be more complex to use, but it’s exactly the opposite. I set my patients straight from the outset, generally the more complex the hearing aid and the better feature set it has – the less you need to interact with it and the easier it is for you to use!
Tips for communicating with someone with hearing loss:
It is important to be open about it as this will help improve communication. All of us want to make our family and friends feel comfortable and stress free so here are some tips that will help you be mindful when having a conversation with a loved one or friend with hearing loss.
- Face the person when talking.
Face to face conversation makes it noticeably clear who you are talking to. Trying to speak to someone with hearing loss from another room can make it harder for them to hear. The same applied if you’re looking downward or off in another direction or talking in a loud crowded room.
Saying the persons name before speaking to them is extremely helpful for those with hearing loss. Once you have their attention, always make sure you maintain face to face conversation if possible.
- Don’t shout.
You may think the person with hearing loss will hear you better if you raise your voice. This is not the case, shouting distorts the words and can also be perceived as being angry or rude. Instead of yelling, try to rephrase your sentence to add more context. Annunciation is appreciated but don’t get frustrated and snap at someone who can’t hear you clearly.
- Don’t get frustrated.
As with the tip mentioned above, don’t get upset if you are being asked to repeat yourself a few times. Instead try responding by re-phrasing the sentence or asking how you can help improve their ability to hear, such as turning down the TV, radio or speaking closer together.
- Use other methods of communication.
Texting and emailing have grown to be immensely helpful for families to ensure that everyone is part of the conversation. If someone in your family has hearing loss, group chats can work wonders to create a more inclusive bond. Facetime may also benefit someone with hearing loss as they have the visual lipreading cues that telephone conversation lacks.
Make sure your loved one’s hearing loss does not go untreated!
Lastly, but most importantly, help them seek out treatment! Hearing loss is nothing to feel embarrassed about or ashamed it, it is perfectly natural and more common that you realise. In fact, hearing loss will most likely affect us all at some point in our lifetime to one degree or another. Pointing it out may seem a bit like tough love at the start, but they may not even be aware of it, or how to go about treating it. Below are a few things that you can do to help get the ball rolling.
- Look up hearing loss support groups.
Both Facebook and your local community will have support groups that can help those with hearing loss and can be especially helpful in realising that they are not alone and have people who can share what they are going through.
- Have an honest conversation about their hearing loss.
If hearing loss is creating a communication issue within the relationship, don’t let the problem get bigger before addressing it. An untreated hearing loss that continues to get worse will create more significant health problems down the line.
- Suggest a hearing test.
If you have a friend or a loved one that is refusing to acknowledge their hearing loss or seek treatment, try to help by offering to having a hearing test done with them. You can both book in with a clinical audiologist and have it done together. Having someone with them helps reduce potential nerves and can serve as a valuable point of reference.
A loved one doesn’t have to be a significant other, it can include your parents, grandparents or even a friend you are looking out for.
If you have a loved one having trouble with their hearing, give them lots of support and encourage them to get a professional opinion from a hearing specialist.
Making a visit to a hearing clinic is the first step and your local Clinical Audiologist is equipped to handle the hesitations your loved one may have.
Together we can help them keep integrated with the hearing world. Call us today on 01978 799387.