Have you noticed any early warning signs of hearing loss in someone you love? You might have noticed that they start to “zone out” in conversations, particularly when there is a lot of background noise or other speakers in the room. You might have sensed frustration, anxiety, or embarrassment when verbal communication is necessary or expected of them. You might have simply noticed that they are asking “What?” more often or requesting that you repeat yourself or speak more loudly. Any of these signs can be an indicator that communication has become difficult for some reason, and hearing loss is one of the most common causes of this difficulty. What can you do if you have noticed these issues with communication? The best thing you can do to help your loved one is to encourage a hearing test, but some people are resistant to that possibility. Some people would even prefer to avoid a hearing test as a way to avoid knowing if they have hearing loss or not. If you are one of those people who has a loved one with some signs that might indicate hearing loss, then there are some basic principles of communication that can help you have a conversation about that possibility. Let’s take a closer look at the ways that you can approach the topic of hearing loss in a way that will have the best results.
Setting the Scene
When you are ready to talk with your loved one about the possibility of hearing loss, the setting is crucial to that person’s receptivity. If you ask in an off-the-cuff manner while in an already frustrating setting, your loved one might brush off the possibility of hearing loss. Instead, choose a quiet place and a calm time to have the conversation. You might want to choose a moment at home when things are quiet and your loved one is feeling at-ease. This context will make it possible to really explore the possibility of hearing loss rather than setting the stage for reactivity or rejection of the possibility.
When you approach the topic of hearing loss, you need to make sure you step into the role of an active listener in that conversation. Not only should you focus on asking questions rather than offering answers or solutions, but you can gesture your sincere concern to your loved one in many ways. Eye contact is important to letting your loved one know that your focus is completely devoted to the conversation. If your eyes wander around the room, you may give the impression that you aren’t paying attention. Simple gestures like nodding your head, saying affirming words, and asking follow-up questions are each ways to show that you care.
In this conversation, it is also important to take the role of a supportive loved one rather than telling that person what to do. If you begin by telling your loved one that they need a hearing test, they might reject the possibility out of hand. Instead, begin with questions about times when it seemed like they were having trouble hearing. When they recount these situations, express your support. If your loved one is ready to explore the possibility of hearing loss, you can provide resources and information that are helpful for their own decision-making process. The harder you push, the more quickly some people will run away from getting treatment, so make sure to emphasize your loved one’s independence and agency in the decision-making process.
The Next Steps
When your loved one is ready to accept the possibility of hearing loss, the next step is to assist with making an appointment. This part of the process is simple, and our hearing health professionals will take the lead going forward. We will provide a thorough diagnostic of your loved one’s hearing ability. If treatment is necessary, we will also recommend the right hearing aids to match that individual hearing profile and any lifestyle features we need to know. Having the conversation about hearing loss is one step in the direction of not only better hearing but also a stronger relationship. When you can communicate effectively, your loved one will feel your support and encouragement in the process.