Make Communication Easier
You won’t get used to living with hearing loss overnight. This is especially true for older people, who wait an average of 7 years to admit they have a problem and seek treatment.
When faced with the condition, “people often become isolated because social situations are so much more difficult,” Moberly says. If you’re the parent or spouse of someone who’s hearing-impaired, here’s how you can help them:
- Turn down background noise, like the TV or dishwasher.
- Call or say their name before you start talking.
- Speak slowly and clearly. Raising your voice can distort the sound of your words.
- Face the person when you speak so they can see your mouth and gestures.
- Try to talk in areas that are well lit, quiet, and calm.
Know Your Options
When you learn more about hearing loss, you can reduce your anxiety and hopefully start to feel better. Plus, many resources can make your life easier. Make sure to seek the help of a licensed audiologist or ear, nose, and throat doctor. They can help you learn about:
- Treatment options like hearing aids or cochlear implants
- Education plans that can help a child succeed in school
- Support groups in your area
- What you’ll need in the way of medical checkups
It can be frustrating to see a family member lose their hearing and do nothing about it. “I’ve had family and friends practically push or trick their ... loved one into my office,” Nelson says. “But you can’t force a person to change.”
A better strategy? “Talk [to your loved one] about the things they’re missing out on in life and how these situations can improve,” Nelson says.
That said, hearing devices are not instant cures. “It can take time for your brain to adjust to the sound coming through that hearing aid,” Moberly says. “The process involves learning to listen again, especially when it comes to speech understanding.”
Don’t Let Hearing Loss Go Untreated
When you’re losing your hearing, you may worry that you’re losing your ability to communicate with everyone around you. But that’s only true if you don’t get help.
“A child’s ability to learn and speak is directly related to their ability to hear,” says Paige Peterson, an audiologist specialist in Austin, TX. “If a child can’t hear, the likelihood for speech delays and disorders increases.”
Older adults who don’t hear well may give others the impression that they’re not as sharp. They may become depressed or anxious. “Hearing loss also impacts [their] ability to talk with health care providers, emergency workers, and family, creating a significant health risk,” Peterson says.
But remember: hearing loss is treatable. “Life is too short to miss the laughter of kids or grandkids, the sound of a bird, or music,” Peterson says. “Take the leap and get back into the game.”