Wondering how you can talk to a loved one about their hearing?
Need help figuring out the appropriate steps to take to support a family member’s hearing health?
Looking for communication tips so fewer conversations end in frustration?
Family members and friends are often the first ones to notice when a loved one is experiencing hearing challenges. If you think that a family member has hearing loss or if you have a family member with a new hearing loss diagnosis, we can help you navigate communication!
We understand that it can be difficult for some to openly discuss their hearing challenges. Always remember to be kind and patient as everyone's lipreading and hearing loss journey is different.
We hear from family members often who say a variety of things from "my husband and I are always fighting over the TV volume" to "my mom isn't hearing as well as she used to." A lot of the time we hear that family, or friends, are refusing to get hearing tested, and ignoring the fact that the may have any hearing loss at all...why is this?
Well, it can be overwhelming. A lot of the time the individual who is struggling is not sure where to start, and the inability to hear properly on the phone, to schedule appointments, can be embarrassing and confusing. Also barriers like transportation, or health conditions can be major challenges for some to overcome.
The main reason that we find a lot of people don't reach out to hearing care providers though, is because they are in denial. They aren't ready to admit the impact of their hearing loss. Often times the individual with the loss will blame others around the for talking too low or "mumbling" and saying that is the reason they can't understand them.
People are also skeptical about hearing loss treatments. They fear that hearing technology providers will just suggest the most expensive option. People often also think that the cost of hearing aids, does not equate to how much they need them.
How can you support your loved ones, no matter what stage of their hearing loss journey they are in?
The first thing you can do is communicate how you feel.
Maybe you have already suggested a hearing test but your family member dismissed it. Many people with reduced hearing do not realize that they are experiencing difficulties.
It is important to keep calm and offer your support to the affected individual while voicing your concern for their health and wellbeing. Discovering a hearing loss can be very emotional to everyone involved, so be prepared that their initial instinct might be to deny it because they often do not recognize how much they are missing.
Sometimes talking about the health benefits of good hearing health can encourage persons to seek help for their hearing loss, however, repeated efforts may be needed before they do so.
Educate yourself on communication strategies, as well as the types of hearing assistive technology available to support your family member.
Keep in mind that there is no “one size fits all solution” for reduced hearing, and what works for someone else may not work for your family member. It is also important to have realistic expectations of what assistive technologies can and cannot do.
Technology is used as an aid for understanding the sounds of everyday life, not as a cure.
Next, suggest that your family member have their hearing checked.
In the event a hearing loss is diagnosed by a hearing care professional, the individual will be offered a treatment based on their individual hearing needs. The hearing care professional will help guide them through this process and provide them with access to information on supportive technologies.
Reach out to groups in your area or online to meet others, connect, learn, grow, and share information. Many groups will connect you with trained staff and volunteers, relevant information, research, and special events.
Groups are often open to anyone who is interested, including family members. This is a good way to not only find new resources but also to meet others who understand your situation.
Check out the Read Our Lips lipreading support group on Facebook: The Lipreading Community
It is important to support the individual who has hearing loss. Be patient and encourage them to advocate for themselves, and help them in situations where you know it will be difficult for them to hear.
Be sure to practice good communication skills when speaking to the individual. Many people with reduced hearing find that they are exhausted at the end of a long day of listening. It is possible to ease this by repeating the important points of a conversation, speaking clearly, and reducing background noise to help them understand.