Hearing loss doesn’t just take a toll on someone’s ability to communicate and participate in social interactions, it affects everyone around them too.
Messages, important dates, events, errands, safety issues, and relationships itself all require communication — these are the things that can get lost in translation when you can not hear and understand clearly what people are saying. Hearing loss also affects interactions outside the home, such as their performance at work and other personal relationships. People can feel withdrawn and isolated — even from the ones who love them most.
Help for family and friends
Everyone wants what’s best for family and friends — and this includes their hearing health and overall well-being. It often takes the people around someone to notice the signs of hearing loss and encourage them to seek the right treatment. Without support, their relationships, job performance, and overall quality of life may decline, simply because their hearing loss prevents them from communicating effectively.
What can I do to support a loved one with hearing loss?
Helping a loved one dealing with hearing loss starts with recognizing the signs, encouraging them to get tested, and supporting them as they cope with the lifestyle changes brought on by using a hearing aid.
Signs of hearing loss include:
- They ask you to slow down because they think you’re mumbling or slurring the words, making it hard for them to understand what you are saying.
- They have trouble hearing in crowded places like restaurants and parties, and often have to lean closer, or appear detached from the conversation as a result.
- They don’t like going out or avoid social gatherings. When they do attend events and parties, they have trouble keeping up with conversations and responding accordingly. This may be due to hearing problems that make it hard for them to listen closely amidst surrounding background noise like loud music and competing voices.
- They seem exhausted a lot more or all the time, especially after long conversations. Hearing loss forces them to exert a lot more effort to listen and pick up sounds and process these, which can be exhausting, especially in crowded places.
- They can’t hear on the phone. Unlike face-to-face interactions where they can pick up on facial expressions and body language, phone conversations force them to rely solely on sound, which they have trouble hearing. Phone conversations can be made worse by poor reception, which further muffles sound and makes it hard to understand.
- You can’t watch TV, go to the movies, or do anything that requires active listening. They may keep asking you to turn up the volume even if it’s already excruciatingly loud or repeats what was said because they couldn’t pick it up. They do better with closed captions — and maybe the only way to enjoy watching anything together.
- They can’t hear the grandkids — and the best part of retirement. Playtime with the little ones and seeing them on Sunday dinners are some of the best parts of growing old and moving through the stages of parenting, but children’s voices are often hard to hear, as these tend to be soft and high-pitched.
- They have trouble connecting with family and friends, which can be frustrating for the entire family. It’s either you feel burdened by having to repeat yourself constantly, or they feel ignored because a lot of conversations and reminders get lost in translation.
- Their ears feel clogged all the time, which diminishes sound quality or results in muffled sounds. Once our audiologist rules out blockages like earwax build-up, an ear infection, and tinnitus — or ringing in the ears without an actual external sound — this clogging or pressure may be a sign of hearing loss.
- They’re not themselves, and your interactions are not the same. Watch for signs of depression, boredom, or being distracted in conversations, as well as balance issues, such as if they seem to be falling more. A lot of patients also withdraw from social gatherings because they have trouble hearing speech, and keeping up with conversations, making them feel isolated and distant from loved ones.
Is your parent or spouse experiencing hearing loss?
A lot of family members and friends may feel stressed and helpless, as their relationships with loved ones change as a result of hearing loss and frequent miscommunication. But the sooner you address these issues, the higher the chances of treating their hearing loss — and repairing your relationship at home.
- Talk to them about your concerns and point out signs of hearing loss in a factual, but calm and loving manner.
- Encourage them to get tested at a hearing health clinic.
- Offer to accompany them during the test and future appointments, such as hearing aid fittings and training.
- Understand their hearing loss diagnosis, or help clarify these while speaking with a hearing health professional, so you can support them while they adjust to the use of their hearing aid and assistive listening devices.
- Practice effective communication at home, such as speaking clearly and avoiding shouting, leaning in closer to hear you, reducing background noise, and rephrasing or simplifying statements. This makes it easier for them to pick up the sound, rather than repeating yourself.
- Reassure them that wearing a hearing aid is normal and that they need to wear it to improve their ability to recognize sounds and respond accordingly.
Living Sounds Hearing Centre is Here to Help!
To learn more about recognizing the signs of hearing loss in loved ones and supporting them throughout their diagnosis and treatment, call Living Sounds Hearing Centre at 780-488-8100 or book an appointment online.