Experiencing a loved one’s untreated hearing loss can be tough. Though hearing loss is the third most common condition people live with today, it is widely undertreated. Over 48 million, nearly 1 in 6 people, have some degree of hearing loss. But only one third of people who could benefit from treatment, receive it. Acknowledging changes to hearing health can be difficult and people may feel overwhelmed by addressing treatment. There are helpful ways you can encourage your loved one to take a hearing test which puts them on the track for life-changing treatment. Here are a few strategies you can use:
- Learn more about hearing loss. Increasing your understanding of hearing loss is a great way to approach this conversation with intention and care. We encourage you to read more about the symptoms and impact of untreated hearing loss as well as treatment options. This will allow you to gain a greater understanding of what your loved one is experiencing. It also enables you to share what you learn with your loved one. Gaining greater insight about hearing loss is a way to support your loved one as well as learn more about the importance of hearing health.
- Discuss your experience. Another useful strategy is to share your specific experience of their hearing loss. Be sure to choose the best time and location to engage in this conversation. Your loved one should be in a comfortable space and you should allocate enough time to have a thoughtful conversation about how their hearing loss has impacted your relationship, the time you spend together, and what you’ve observed. It is important to use “I” statements (vs. “you” statements) which is a softer way to express your thoughts. This prevents them from feeling attacked or being defensive. It is important to remember that this is a sensitive topic and they may feel embarrassed about their hearing loss. These feelings are part of what prevents people from addressing their symptoms. Approaching this conversation with care and empathy goes a long way.
- Share impact of unrated hearing loss. This is another area your research comes in handy! Hearing loss has multifaceted effects on everyday life when it remains untreated. Sharing this impact illuminates why it is so important to treat hearing loss. Major consequences of untreated hearing loss include:
- Strained communication: hearing loss reduces capacity to hear speech as sound. It produces a range of symptoms that make it tough to participate in conversations. People may even pretend to hear to get through a conversation. This can lead to miscommunication and unpleasant interactions.
- Relationships suffer: communication is integral to relationships. Hearing loss often causes people to avoid or shorten conversations as much as possible to cope with their symptoms. It can also prevent people from engaging in everyday activities with ease. This can be as simple as arguing over the volume of the TV with your loved one. Straiend communication cna produce tension, distance, and frustration in relationships.
- Increased health risks: extensive research also shows that untreated hearing loss can increase health risks. This includes cognitive decline, falls, and depressive symptoms.
Untreated hearing loss can take a toll on relationships, health, and well being. Left untreated, symptoms can worsen and have major effects.
- Highlight benefits of treatment. Fortunately, there are treatment options that are accessible and effective. Sharing the many benefits of treatment is a great way to encourage getting a hearing test. This includes: strengthening communication, improving relationships, enriching social engagement, and improving overall health. Highlighting these benefits underscore how treating hearing loss can transform one’s quality of life. Also, sharing that hearing tests are noninvasive and painless as well as what your loved one can expect is a useful way to alleviate any anxiety and stress they may be feeling.
- Have your hearing tested too. To help make getting a hearing test comfortable, get your hearing tested too! Offering to go with your loved one and also have your hearing tested too can help them feel more at ease and less overwhelmed. It is also a great way to model prioritizing hearing health.
Practicing these strategies can provide your loved one with the support they need to take action on their hearing loss. Contact us to learn more!