How to Support Hearing-Impaired Loved-Ones?
Hearing is often referred to as the social-sense since it has such a strong role in communication. Hearing allows many people to feel connected with the world around us. When we speak with one another, there is an expectation that the listener hears us fully the first time we say something. If a loved one is experiencing hearing loss, this expectation that is typically taken for granted is quickly removed from the equation. To prevent frustration on either party’s part, there are steps that can be taken to support a loved one’s hearing impairment.
Stigmas and underlying beliefs
There are underlying stigmas surrounding treating or experiencing hearing loss that should be addressed with your loved ones. Opening the lane of communication to discuss auditory changes is key to ensuring you and the person experiencing hearing loss feels supported. It is understandable when a family member goes through a range of emotions when they begin experiencing hearing loss; a sense that they had previously relied on simply ceases to exist. Being open to communication about treatment, any hesitations or reluctance or simply acknowledging any stigmas or stereotypes surrounding hearing loss can be a way to support your loved one.
It is very common for people to accept hearing loss as a natural part of aging, so they may not even consider the idea that there is an option to potentially treat the hearing loss. Again, there is an underlying belief that hearing aids may not offer any benefits, but this is not correct; creating an open dialogue can be the first step in supporting a family member or friend. Your loved one may be in complete denial of their hearing problem or may not even realize one exists. Because hearing loss so often occurs gradually, the individual with the problem is often the last to know.
Discuss possible treatments
If your loved one is seeking help towards treating their hearing loss, consider scheduling a consultation appointment for them with an audiologist who is trained to evaluate hearing loss. When the time comes, go with your loved one to the appointment as support.
There are multiple hearing loss solutions available, and hearing aids have evolved greatly. Styles vary depending on the extent of the hearing loss, lifestyle of the person experiencing hearing loss, and cosmetic preferences. If your loved one has mentioned any hesitations due to the appearance of hearing aids, you may want to consider mentioning that audiologists can be helpful in picking the correct option for them and remind them that there are options that are less visible than others, including both in-the-ear (ITE) and behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids. The least visible ones include ones known as invisible in canal (IIC), which is aptly named and completely in canal (CIC), which is nearly invisible when worn.
If your loved one is not ready to make an appointment, don’t pressure them to do so. Doing this will likely only frustrate your loved one since nobody wants to be pressured to do something against their will. Instead, make sure you use patience as you support your family or friend.
Encourage your loved one to seek out a support group in the area to discuss their experience with other people who are also experiencing hearing loss. It can be beneficial for them to discuss their feelings with people who can relate to their experience and may help to reduce any anxiety about seeking help with an audiologist.
In the meantime, here are some quick tips to help with communication:
- If your loved one does not understand something you’ve said, do not just re-state what you said in a louder voice, but instead rephrase what you’ve said.
- Turn off any electronic devices like televisions when you’re chatting.
- Avoid long, complex sentences and focus on clarity with shorter sentences and words.
- When necessary, write down or spell out certain words or phrases.
- Face your loved one when talking to them so they can more clearly see your expressions and your lips while you speak.
- Do not say never mind if they ask you to repeat something.
- Use a normal speaking volume, but speak slightly slower. Raising your voice can distort your voice.
Ultimately, being supportive of your loved ones as they navigate hearing loss will be beneficial. If you are interested in scheduling a consulting appointment for either yourself or your loved one, or to learn more about Quality Hearing Aid Center, speak with one of our team members by calling today at 248-569-5985.