Hearing loss is one of the biggest health issues in America today. In fact, it affects nearly 50 million Americans – that’s 1 in every 5 people! This number will only increase as time goes on and our population ages. Hearing loss can have a devastating effect not only on the person who suffers from it but also on their loved ones.
It’s important to encourage your loved ones to get a hearing test if you suspect they may be suffering from hearing loss.
Why is it so hard for those with hearing loss to seek treatment? Here are some reasons:
- Fear of being found out. Hearing loss can be embarrassing for people who don’t want others to know they’re having difficulty hearing. They may also fear being labeled as “old.”
- Lack of information. Many people don’t understand that hearing loss isn’t just an old person’s problem; it can affect anyone at any age, even children.
- Stigma associated with wearing hearing aids. Some people think wearing hearing aids makes them look old or unattractive, but today’s hearing aids come in a variety of styles and colors that help make them less noticeable when worn correctly.
Here are a few ways you can approach encouraging your loved one to take a hearing test.
Don’t compare your loved one to others.
One of the worst things you can do for your loved one is to compare them to other people. You may think this will help them see how bad their hearing really is, but it likely won’t. Comparing your loved one to others will only make them feel terrible about themselves and embarrassed about not taking care of their hearing sooner.
Don’t compare your loved one’s hearing loss to someone else’s experience of the same problem. Don’t use examples of other people who have had similar problems with their ears or hearing (for example: “My mom had this problem years ago and she did X, Y, and Z”).
If you do want to talk about what happened with an older family member or friend who has also been diagnosed with hearing loss, try not mentioning anything specific until after they’ve gotten tested themselves—and even then only as much as they’re ready for in terms of detail and discussion!
Discuss how their hearing loss impacts you.
Approaching discussions with “you” words can push the person you’re attempting to engage away.
Instead of saying things like “You’re never listening” or “You’re just asking me to repeat myself,” try rephrasing the conversation with words like “I” to get the listener to see things from your perspective. For instance:
“I’ve discovered that I frequently have to repeat myself when we’re talking.”
By focusing on how these things affect you personally, you may see how a hearing problem affects not only your loved one, but also everyone around them.
Ask questions and pay attention.
Allow your loved one to communicate and share their perspectives after you’ve aired your concerns and opinions concerning their hearing loss.
Most of the time, your loved one has already noticed some abnormalities with their hearing capacity but is hesitant or afraid to seek treatment. To keep talking with them, actively listen to what they say and ask open-ended questions.
Be open to compromise.
Compromise is a sign of respect. It can be hard to accept when you’re right and your loved one is wrong, but being open to compromise means you’re willing to recognize that they are human (and therefore make mistakes) too. Remember that sometimes we need help because it’s not always easy for us to see our own faults and weaknesses.
Use listening skills: Listen attentively to what your loved one says about why they don’t want their hearing tested or why they feel uncomfortable with getting treatment from an audiologist. This will help ensure that both sides are heard out before reaching any resolution on the issue of hearing treatment.
Be patient: While it’s important not only for others but also for yourself, this process may take time—sometimes months or even years—to achieve its end goal of getting your loved one to take hearing loss seriously without feeling as though they are being dragged to the hearing clinic.
There are plenty of ways to encourage your loved one to take a hearing test, but the best approach will depend on their personality and your relationship with them. If you take the time to reflect on these things, you’ll be able to find an approach that works for both of you.