How to Support a Loved One with Hearing Loss

ahg-hearing-aidsHearing loss can be an isolating existence for those who have it. They often feel as though they are missing out, and tend to avoid social situations because they are afraid they won’t be able to enter in properly. This tendency to avoid others can lead to depression and even cognitive decline. There are currently 48 million Americans who have been diagnosed with significant hearing loss and odds are you know at least one or more individuals who suffer from hearing loss. So how can we support our loved ones who suffer from this condition?

Well the first step is to make sure they get help for their hearing loss. Untreated hearing loss is a real problem and can have some serious consequences over time. Studies have shown that untreated hearing loss can cause fatigue, tension, stress, depression, irritability, negativism, anger, social rejection, loneliness, impaired memory and the ability to learn new tasks. So, getting your loved one to an audiologist for a comprehensive hearing test is the first step in supporting them.

Once hearing loss has been diagnosed, the next step is to encourage them to get treatment. Hearing aids are an amazing invention and there are several different options available that will ensure the patient gets the right hearing aid for their condition along with the perfect fit for comfort and wearability. Today’s hearing aids are fully programmable for superior hearing, there are iPhone compatible hearing aids, hearing aids that are completely discreet, hearing aids that can be worn behind the ear, completely in the ear canal or in the outer canal. Options abound!

New hearing aid users can sometimes be overwhelmed with the amplified sounds. The brain needs time to adjust to sounds that have been forgotten over time and that can be stressful for new wearers. Encourage them to be patient and to wear their new hearing aids as much as possible so their brain can have a chance to adjust. Also, encourage them to be aware of how they are hearing and to make sure to go back to their audiologist for adjustments as needed.

Lastly, be aware that communication is a two-way process. Sometimes, hearing loss is so severe that hearing aids are not able to compensate enough to make every conversation and every word audible. There are some tools you can use however to help make every conversation a success.

  • Speak clearly and naturally – shouting does not help
  • Move closer to the individual so they are able to clearly see your facial expressions and lips while talking
  • When you are in a group, talk one at a time – talking over each other will make it almost impossible for hearing impaired individuals to distinguish words
  • Reduce background noise as much as possible – turn off, or turn down the TV or radio or go someplace where it is quiet to talk
  • If they don’t understand what you are saying, try rephrasing it instead of repeating it, sometimes it is just certain sounds or words that their brain cannot interpret

Hearing loss does not have to be a devastating diagnosis – there is help! If you or someone you love thinks they might be suffering from hearing loss, make an appointment with an audiologist today and get started on the road to hearing once again.

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