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Unfortunately, there is still a bit of unfounded stigma surrounding hearing loss and the use of hearing aids. This may be why the average American waits about 7 years from the time they notice changes in their hearing to the time they seek help. During that time, untreated hearing loss can cause some real damage to our mental cognition, our social lives and our work productivity. While it seems like a difficult task, encouraging a loved one to get a hearing test may be the best thing you can do for them.
Find the Right Time
Right after you’ve loudly asked your husband to turn down the volume on the TV for the 1,000th time may not be the best opportunity to discuss hearing loss and hearing tests. Be sure to wait until you and your partner are both calm, so you both really have the opportunity to speak, listen, and be heard.
Express Yourself Honestly
Often, we try to encourage our loved one to take a hearing test by helping them understand the positive impact treating hearing loss can have on their life. While there is a lot of good research supporting an increased quality of life with hearing aids – this is not always the most effective route. Studies have shown that a person is more likely to agree to a hearing assessment if they know that their hearing loss has had a negative effect on others. Do you feel like you are not being listened to? Do you miss cuddling up and listening to old music at a volume you can both enjoy? None of us want to hurt our loved one’s feelings, however, it is important to tell your loved one what you are experiencing too.
Expect Some Pushback
Although it is important to find a good time to talk to your loved one about your concerns with their hearing, don’t wait too long to find the perfect opportunity. Likely, you will receive some pushback from your loved on the first time it is discussed – and you may need to try again on another day. Be patient with them and know that losing one’s hearing can be a very emotional journey – one that may take a little while to accept. Some people associate hearing tests and hearing aids with aging, and struggle with this aspect of it. Whatever the reason, if your loved one or partner needs a little space or time to process the conversation before giving an answer – definitely allow them that.
Take Location into Consideration
Of course, you are not going to talk to your loved one about hearing loss at a rock concert, however, some locations such as coffee shops can have deceivingly loud background noise that can be very distracting. Find a spot where you can sit one-on-one and are facing each other to help maximize their understanding. Because this conversation can sometimes be emotional, it may be best to consider having it at home or another private place that is special to you.
Don’t Do All the Talking
It is important to also listen to your loved one during this conversation. Chances are, they’ve already thought about their hearing loss and whether they should take a hearing test. Give your loved one time to respond and try not to judge their answers. They are the one dealing with the hearing loss, and they may be experiencing emotions or thoughts that you haven’t yet considered. When asking questions, try to keep them open-ended to keep the conversations flowing.
Offer to be a Support System
Your loved one might feel a little scared, awkward, or nervous about the whole concept of hearing loss and hearing tests. Offer to be their support system. Be the one to research audiologists in your area and pick up the phone to help them schedule their first appointment. Find research on the benefits of treating hearing loss on mental cognition, family relationships, work productivity and even earning potential to help give your loved one a little encouragement and motivation to seek treatment. If you live near the South Shore and Southern Massachusetts, reach out to our friendly team for help. We look forward to assisting both you and your loved one to experience better hearing and a healthier, happier life!