Though talking about hearing loss can be challenging, family members are often the first to notice when a loved one is experiencing hearing loss. If you have a family member who might be experiencing hearing loss, you might notice that you’re having to repeat your sentences over and over. You might notice that the TV’s volume has gotten louder and louder over the weeks. Or, you might notice that your loved one no longer participates avidly in the boisterous family discussions they used to love.
If you notice these things, it might be time to start talking about hearing loss by encouraging your loved one to get their hearing tested. But having this conversation can be difficult or awkward. It’s
not unusual for people to dislike being told that they might need to seek help for something that used to be easy for them.
Whether you’re thinking about talking about hearing loss with a parent, a spouse, or even a close friend, there are ways to make this important conversation easier for both of you.
Below are 3 tips for initiating a conversation with your loved one about their hearing loss.
1. Gently check in with them.
Rather than assuming that they are experiencing hearing loss, gently check in with them after an experience where you notice that they might have been having difficulty hearing. If you noticed that they were having difficulty hearing on the phone for example, you might say: “Sounded like it was hard to hear on the phone, was the connection bad or does it feel like talking on the phone has been harder lately?” Introducing the topic casually can help your loved one feel comfortable opening up to you.
Or, if they’ve been asking you to repeat a lot of things recently, you might gently say: “I’ve noticed that you’ve had a harder time understanding me when we’ve been talking, does it feel that way to you too?” Give your loved one the opportunity to speak directly about their own experiences. If they feel comfortable, they will share that they’ve been experiencing issues hearing. At this point, you can offer to learn more about hearing loss with them in order to take the appropriate next steps.
2. Use humor, if it feels appropriate in your relationship.
Some people are especially hesitant to admit that they are experiencing difficulty hearing. Humor can help make the subject less taboo, giving you a way to talk to them about the importance of confronting their hearing loss.
Next time your loved one asks you to repeat something you’ve said, you can playfully say: “I know how much you love my voice, and I want you to be able to hear it as clearly as possible forever! Have you thought about getting your hearing checked so you’ll never be able to escape my voice?” This approach definitely doesn’t work for everyone, but introducing the topic playfully can help ease your loved one into talking about hearing loss.
3. Offer to accompany them to get their hearing checked.
This tip is KEY to helping your loved one feel supported. Once you’ve broken the ice on the conversation about hearing loss, offer to accompany your loved one to get their hearing checked.
Lucid Hearing offers hearing tests in the welcoming environment of your local Sam’s Club. You can sign up for a free hearing test at a Sam’s Club Hearing Aid Center by scheduling an appointment online. And since these hearing tests are free, you can also go ahead and sign up for an appointment for yourself! This can help your loved one feel even more supported, while giving you insight about your hearing. What a fun outing!
Identifying hearing loss early is important. Though the initial conversation with your loved one might be tough, rest assured that by talking about hearing loss, you are helping them take the crucial first step to preserving and improving their hearing.
How common is age-related hearing loss?
According to the National Institutes of Health, age is the strongest predictor of hearing loss. Though hearing loss is not uncommon at any age (approximately 15% of American adults aged 18 and over report some trouble hearing), people who are in the 60 to 69 age range report age-related hearing loss at the highest levels.
Though hearing loss can feel like an isolating experience since it can make communication harder, it is actually very common. Age-related hearing loss (prebycusis) occurs gradually in almost all of us as we age. In fact, approximately 1 in 3 people in the United States between the ages of 65 and 74 have hearing loss. Nearly half of those older than 75 experience difficulty hearing.
How can I identify age-related hearing loss?
Age-related hearing loss can be difficult to self-identify. Since most people experience age-related hearing loss gradually, it can be hard for them to tell when they’re losing the ability to hear. There usually isn’t a sudden shift from being able to hear to not being able to hear, and since the process is gradual it can be more difficult to identify when it is happening.
Age-related hearing loss typically occurs in both ears simultaneously, so you won’t notice that you’re having trouble hearing in just one ear. With age-related hearing loss, you might notice that you are having a more difficult time speaking on the phone, hearing doorbells, or following conversations. The people around you might help you identify your hearing loss if they notice that you’re asking “can you repeat that?” more often than usual.
What causes age-related hearing loss?
There are many different possible causes of hearing loss. Many of these causes involve changes to parts of the ear as we age, but other causes involve medications, medical conditions, or changes to nerve pathways from the ear to the brain.
Another possible cause of hearing loss is one that can affect all ages. Noise-induced hearing loss is a result of exposure to loud noises, usually over time. Our ears have sensory hair cells in them that become damaged when we expose our ears to loud noises. These hairs do not grow back, and fewer hairs mean a diminished ability to hear.
Though different people might have different causes for their age-related hearing loss, hearing loss affects most people in the same ways. People typically experience similar challenges with communication when they have hearing loss, and there are many ways to cope with the challenges that arise.
How can I feel supported?
Remember that hearing loss is truly part of the human experience.
Hearing loss is a part of aging and it is a challenge that most people experience as they grow older. When you feel alone, remember that millions of other people are going through this challenge alongside you.
While the changes that accompany hearing loss can be difficult, they are completely manageable. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your family, your friends, and others who might be going through similar challenges as you. Ask for what you need to feel supported — maybe it would help you if the people around you spoke louder or faced you when they spoke. Remind your loved ones of what you need. This will help you communicate with each other with ease.
In addition, Lucid Hearing can help you cope with hearing loss by offering you hearing aids with optimal clarity, ear to ear synchronization, and streaming bluetooth connection.
You can always schedule a free hearing test at a Sam’s Club Hearing Aid Center near you. You can even schedule an appointment online right now or by calling 1-800-785-6052.
And remember: be proud of yourself for taking steps to cope with a new challenge!
In our previous blog, we explored 5 ways to support a parent
experiencing hearing loss. These tips focused on practical ways to support your parent and improve your communication. Supporting a loved one through the process of hearing loss is extremely important, so we thought we’d offer 5 more ways to support them with coping with hearing loss! The suggestions below focus on how to provide emotional support for hearing loss.
1. Empathize with your loved one. Consider what it might feel like if you began to experience hearing loss. Think about how it might affect your day-to-day activities and about the frustration you might feel if you’re not able to hear as well as you used to be able to.
While you won’t truly understand what hearing loss is like unless you’ve gone through it, you can still empathize with your parent experiencing hearing loss and make them feel understood and supported.
Sometimes the most effective thing you can do is listen to your parent and help them feel heard. This type of emotional support for hearing loss goes a long way!
2. Maintain eye contact when communicating. Eye contact is always a powerful tool for communication and connection. It is especially powerful when speaking with a loved one with hearing loss.
Making eye contact while speaking will allow your parent to read your expressions and lips to better understand what you are saying. And this eye contact is sure to deepen your relationship with your parent! It’s really an amazing thing!
3. Support your loved one in social environments. Crowded social environments like family gatherings, meals at restaurants, and outings with friends can become challenging when experiencing hearing loss.
Voices can become blurred together and words can become difficult to discern. The feeling of isolation for your parent with hearing loss might be magnified when feeling excluded in social situations.
You can provide practical and emotional support for hearing loss by staying by their side as someone they can turn to if they miss the punchline of a joke, or need some clarification about what has been said.
4. Share special moments with them. Take photos and videos of your children giggling, your hiking adventure, and the concerts you attend. Share these moments with your parent to help them feel connected to what you are doing and able to listen with greater clarity. With recorded media, your parent will have control over how loud the volume is, and they can watch it again if they miss something. The time you spend together is precious, but you can help them feel included even when you are separated.
5. Work to eliminate the stigma around hearing loss. This should go without saying, but don’t ever make fun of your parent’s hearing loss or minimize the challenges that accompany their hearing loss. Stand up for them in the company of others.
There is no shame in experiencing hearing loss, so there’s no need to act like it is a taboo. Create space to discuss hearing loss honestly and openly. By eliminating the stigma around hearing loss, you will be offering crucial emotional support for hearing loss that will help not only your loved one, but all people experiencing hearing loss.
Have other ideas for supporting someone experiencing hearing loss in your life? We’d love to read your suggestions in the comments section!
Do you have a parent experiencing hearing loss? Hearing loss can be an isolating and challenging experience. Having a supportive group of family and friends is essential to coping with hearing loss. It can be difficult to know where to start in figuring out how to support a parent experiencing hearing loss. Below are 5 simple things you can do to support them at every stage of hearing loss.
1. Encourage your parent to address their hearing loss early by seeking medical support and getting the tools they need to cope with their hearing loss. Early intervention for hearing loss is key to preventing other challenging health consequences. An early diagnosis and early intervention reduce the risk of other long-term conditions that are linked with hearing loss, like dementia.
Addressing hearing loss early also allows your parent to begin coping with hearing loss before it becomes too disruptive, allowing them to ease into their a new challenge. If you notice that your loved one is having trouble hearing with increased frequency, lovingly encourage them to seek medical attention. Though having these conversations may be hard, they will ultimately help your parent experiencing hearing loss.
2. Be patient if asked to repeat things. With a parent experiencing hearing loss, your parent might ask you to repeat what you’ve said to them.
Rather than becoming annoyed and frustrated, it can be helpful to smile and use this as an opportunity to practice enunciating and speaking more clearly. Take a moment to appreciate the beauty of communication and feel grateful that you’re able to have this connection with your loved one.
3. Avoid distracting surround sounds. Put the television on mute when you’re talking to your parent experiencing hearing loss and turn the blender off. Surround sounds make it harder for those experiencing hearing loss to make out words that are being spoken.
4. Be conscientious of the activities you choose. Be thoughtful about which activities might not be as fun for your parent anymore (but don’t make unwarranted assumptions!)
Maybe you and your loved one loved going to the movie theater together every Friday night. Watching movies in the theater can be difficult when experiencing hearing loss, since the words can become more difficult to make out. If this is the case, you can try watching movies at home instead, making it a fun Friday night tradition with cozy blankets and homemade treats!
But again, don’t assume–your loved one might still enjoy the experience of going to the theater, so it’s important to continue communicating and checking in with them. Other activities that might become more difficult include: bustling social gatherings, meals in crowded restaurants, and concerts.
5. Remember that hearing loss does not define them. Just because your parent is experiencing hearing loss doesn’t mean they don’t want to or aren’t able to communicate with you. Don’t let hearing loss change the dynamic of your relationship with your parent. They are the same person they have always been, and with your support, your relationship will only continue to deepen.
“Pass the what??”
Does it feel like the people in your life are always mumbling? Are you having to ask them to repeat what they are saying over and over and it still doesn’t feel like they are speaking clearly?
It’s true that young people can be notorious for mumbling, but if it feels like all of the people in your life are speaking less clearly than they were in the past, then you might be experiencing hearing loss.
Identifying Hearing Loss
There are lots of situations that might alert you to the fact that you’re having trouble hearing. If you relate to the situations below, you might be experiencing hearing loss.
- Do you have trouble hearing and understanding in crowded situations like restaurants, family gatherings, conferences, malls, or bustling parks?
- Have you been turning up the volume on your TV or radio because you’re having trouble hearing them?
- Do you dread speaking on the phone because it is so hard to hear and understand what is being said on the other side?
- Have you slept through your alarm several times because you just can’t hear it, even though this hasn’t been an issue before?
- Do you feel annoyed at the movie theater because it is hard to hear and understand the dialogue?
- Do people have to tap you on the shoulder because you can’t hear them when they are talking behind you?
These situations can be frustrating – activities that used to be easy and fun for you suddenly become more difficult.
You might feel stressed out because you’re having to work so hard just to hear what other people are saying. You might notice yourself focusing hard on watching people’s lips move when they are speaking to try to understand what they are saying.
Resources for Coping with Hearing Loss
Having trouble hearing can affect many aspects of your life, including your interpersonal relationships and your hobbies. However, by noticing the symptoms of hearing loss, you can take control of your hearing and mitigate the effects of hearing loss.
There are lots of resources available to you to help cope with your hearing loss. Lucid Hearing technology is among these resources: Lucid Hearing Aids make life easier by addressing the challenges that can accompany hearing loss.
Lucid Hearing technology features 96 channels for optimum clarity, ear to ear synchronization, and streaming Bluetooth connection.
You can always schedule a free hearing test at a Sam’s Club Hearing Aid Center near you. Take control of your hearing loss right now by scheduling an appointment online.
Lucid Hearing technology is committed to giving you more memories and less mumbling, and more friendship and less frustration. Take control of your hearing today!