Hearing Loss – It’s a Family Affair
“When someone in the family has a hearing loss, the whole family has a hearing loss.” – HLAA
Hearing loss affects 48 million Americans. It is the third most common chronic condition for older Americans, in fact, 40% of individuals over age 65 are hearing impaired.
Untreated hearing loss can lead to social isolation, stress and depression, social rejection and feelings of loneliness, irritability and anger, reduced alertness and even an increased risk of falls. But the impacts of hearing loss are so much bigger than that. Untreated hearing loss not only impacts a person’s quality of life – it also has an impact on his or her family. While hearing loss is isolating, it’s not an isolated problem. For those with loved ones experiencing untreated hearing loss, the effects are real, significant and can have a lasting impact on the most important relationships in their lives. Everyone who loves them and lives with them feels the effects too.
Couples are often most affected by untreated hearing loss. Spouses often report a decrease in social activities because of the inability to have a conversation in some settings, and many say they’re unable to enjoy even simple activities like watching a movie or TV together because of the disparity in comfortable volume levels.
For adult children with parents experiencing hearing loss, connecting can be a challenge. Since those experiencing hearing loss often avoid phone conversations and social situations, maintaining feelings of closeness to family members in the course of daily life can be difficult. Younger children still living at home or grandchildren may experience the same effects, having to repeat themselves multiple times, or even avoiding conversations completely out of frustration or embarrassment.
All of this can lead to feelings of sadness, resentment, and exasperation on the part of family members. Communication is integral to maintaining and developing our relationships. And while hearing loss is on the rise, only 1 out of 5 people who could benefit from a hearing aid actually wears one according to The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communications Disorders (NIDCD).
If you suspect that someone you love is experiencing hearing loss, it’s time to take action. Here are seven tips to improve communication with a loved one experiencing hearing loss:
7 Tips For Families to Improve Communication with a Hearing Loss-Affected Loved One:
- Get their attention before you start speaking. This ensures they can focus on you and what you’re saying. Don’t yell from another room, for instance.
- Don’t change topics without warning. If you start talking about weekend plans and then suddenly launch into an unrelated topic, your loved one may have difficulty following the conversation.
- Slow down and eliminate background noises. Many of us are guilty of talking too fast. Slow down, speak clearly and pause – it helps! Mute the TV and turn down the radio, too.
- Double-check! If you’re relaying vital information, confirm you were understood.
- Seek help and ensure safety. If your loved one has difficulty using the telephone or cannot hear emergency warning signals, visit the Hearing Loss Association of America, hearingloss.org, to learn more.
- Share the hearing responsibility. It is the responsibility of the person who is talking to make it easier by following tips 1 through 5. It is the responsibility of the person with hearing loss to acknowledge their hearing problem, connect with a hearing loss expert or audiologist who can help, and use technology to improve their hearing now. You can learn more about today’s affordable and high-tech hearing aid options at hihealthinnovations.com.
- Start a conversation. Speak with your loved one about their hearing loss and some of the options for treatment. Keep the conversation positive, speak to the effect that their hearing loss is having on the family and discuss the advantages that can be realized through seeking treatment. And finally, reassure them that you’ll support them in taking the first step of having their hearing examined.
Hearing loss doesn’t have to compromise your relationships. To learn more about the signs of hearing loss, how to maintain hearing health, and treatment options, visit hihealthinnovations.com.
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