Experiencing a loved one’s untreated hearing loss is difficult. It can affect your relationship in ways that are challenging to navigate. Though hearing loss is a pervasive medical condition, impacting nearly 48 million people, it remains underdiagnosed. Because it is an invisible health issue that typically occurs gradually, people may not immediately notice that it’s happening. Also, it can be difficult to acknowledge changes to hearing health because of the stigma or common misconceptions that people have about hearing loss.
A great way you can offer support to your loved one is by encouraging them to take a hearing test which is the first step towards transformative treatment. It is important to approach this with as much intention and care as possible, a few ways you can do this are:
Choose Best Time and Place
Discussing changes to health can be a sensitive topic, especially for people who may be avoiding dealing with it at all. Choosing the right environment to have this conversation is important. You want to make sure that your loved one is comfortable and at ease which can help with hearing and processing important information. Also, take into account their challenges with hearing when choosing the time and place. The setting should be accessible and one where they are better able to hear. Avoid environments with background noise, crowds, and distractions.
It is also important to set aside plenty of time so that the conversation is not rushed. Be sure to let them know to allocate adequate time as well. Choose a nearby, relaxed, and quiet space that allows you to engage in intimate conversation. Lastly, having a one-on-one conversation is a useful way to approach this dialogue!
Research Hearing Loss Beforehand
Taking the time before having this conversation with your loved one to research information about hearing loss can really help you explain the importance of seeking treatment. This includes learning about symptoms, impact, health risks associated with untreated hearing loss, ways it affects relationships, etc. Sharing this information with your loved one is a valuable way to emphasize how critical addressing hearing loss is. Also, it is important to name the symptoms and health risks hearing loss contributes to so that your loved one also has a solid understanding of the seriousness of what they are experiencing.
Share How Their Hearing Loss Impacts Your Relationship
Being as specific as possible about how your relationship has been impacted by their hearing loss is a useful way to underscore how others are affected. Untreated hearing loss often takes a toll on relationships, people often report feeling ignored and unheard. Strained communication also prevents quality time and produces frustrating interactions. This can contribute to shortened conversations, tension, and distance in relationships. Avoid using “you” statements and assigning blame which can easily drive them away. Rather, thoughtfully share your observations and ways your dynamic has changed due to their untreated hearing loss.
Ask Questions and Listen
Once you’ve shared your observations and feedback, it is important to ask questions. Invite them to share with you their concerns or anxieties about seeking treatment. They have likely observed how their hearing loss has impacted them and others, so ask about their experience. Learning about what could be preventing them from prioritizing their hearing health can better help you offer useful support. Also, people often have several misconceptions about hearing loss that prevent or delay them from seeking treatment. You can address these misconceptions with the research you’ve done and share the consequences of untreated hearing loss as well as the countless benefits of treatment.
Offer Continued Support
A great way to be encouraging and give the extra push needed to take a hearing test is by offering your continued support. Hearing loss is a journey so acknowledging that it is a process that you will be present for is incredibly affirming and helpful. You can offer to attend the appointment with them and/or even take a hearing test yourself! People should incorporate getting their hearing evaluated as part of regular health routines so you taking a test highlights the importance of this. This can also help alleviate anxiety and fear around addressing health concerns.