Encouraging a Loved One to Take a Hearing Test

Do you have a loved one who might benefit from hearing loss treatment? They ask you to repeat yourself over and over, or they don’t but then it’s clear they haven’t been listening while you spoke. Whenever you see them, the TV or the radio is on too loud. Maybe you notice them participating less in group conversations, or not wanting to get together in groups at all. Maybe they don’t admit they’re having trouble hearing, or maybe they know they have hearing loss but think they’re “doing just fine” without hearing aids.

To be sure, this is a frustrating situation. It’s clear to you that they’d be better off with hearing aids, but they have excuses like they don’t want to feel “old,” or they had a friend who didn’t like their hearing aids, or they remember the massive, whistling hearing aids of a parent or grandparent. With a little finesse, you may be able to help them see just how much better off they would be if they would suck it up and get a hearing test.

 

Do Some Research Beforehand

Luckily, these days the internet is full of information about studies regarding hearing loss and hearing aids. A few searches will give you a plethora of information that might help you demonstrate to your loved one just how much hearing aids can improve their life. Did you know over 90% of people who get hearing aids now are satisfied with them?

Those bulky old hearing aids from decades past are gone, with newer models that are smaller and smarter. Rather than just making everything louder, they can help distinguish speech from background noise, help alleviate tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and even integrate with modern technology via Bluetooth or other means at home, in the car, and even at museums and some restaurants.

Study after study indicates that hearing aids help with improving relationships, keep people feeling and acting younger, and even improve balance and reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Bring a few of these statistics to your loved one’s attention gently and without judgment, and they might start to see their way clear to a hearing test.

 

Pick the Right Setting

Bring up the subject with a minimum of distractions, especially auditory distractions. If you’re at home, make sure the TV is off and you’re away from loud appliances. If you’re going out, pick a quiet place that’s well lit. Make sure you’re sitting facing each other. Raising your voice, even when it’s clear that it’s just so you can be heard better, still carries overtones of aggression, so you want to be able to stay and sound calm. If their hearing is in significant decline, they are likely at the point of using lip reading to assist their understanding of speech, so make sure they can see your face and you shouldn’t need to yell to be understood.

 

Mention Your Experiences

Point to specific experiences you’ve had with them when you know their hearing made things more difficult for them or for you, but don’t get emotional or accusatory. They can’t help that their hearing ability is declining, and they are likely scared about it. You don’t want them to dig in their heels, but to open up to the idea that hearing aids might be good for them. Let them know how their own experience would have been improved if they could hear better, and remind them that you want what is best for them.

 

Listen

Give them space to talk about their own experience of hearing loss. Encourage them to talk about their misgivings, their fears, and their frustrations. Don’t interrupt. Let them talk through their ideas; articulating things that we’ve only carried in our heads can be a transformative experience in itself, so give them space to change their own mind about things. If they feel the need to blame you for anything at this time, don’t get defensive but let them work through these thoughts and feelings on their own.

 

Remind Them of Your Support

Whether it’s a ride to the hearing test or just accompaniment for emotional support, let them know you’ll be there for them as they move forward. The process doesn’t have to be frustrating or frightening, especially when they know they’re not doing it alone.

The Benefits of Treating Hearing Loss

If you’re one of the 35 million Americans suffering from hearing loss, chances are you’re one of 70% of them who is not yet wearing hearing aids. On average, it takes a person 7 years from the time they realize they have hearing loss to the time they seek treatment for it. Some people think hearing aids will make them “old,” or that they’re getting by just fine without them. In fact, hearing aids help keep us feeling and acting young, and refusing them can have negative effects we might not imagine.

 

Why Seek Treatment for Hearing Loss?

If you’re suffering the early stages of hearing loss, you might be aware of getting fatigued earlier in social situations, or maybe you pretend to hear people to keep conversations moving forward. As these trends continue, they get worse, not better.

Study after study shows that untreated hearing loss leads to stressed relationships with partners, friends and loved ones; social isolation; less pay at work; increased risk of falling down and the associated bodily harm; and even brain atrophy and earlier onset of dementia.

However, there is good news! Getting hearing aids sooner rather than later keeps us healthier and happier. Here are a few of the benefits people notice about their hearing aids.

 

Increased Earning Power

The Better Hearing Institute conducted research that shows people who have untreated hearing loss make as much as $30,000 less per year than those who treat their hearing loss. Hearing aids overwhelmingly helped people’s annual raises stay on pace with those of people with normal hearing. Those with mild hearing loss are 90% less likely to suffer decreased earnings when they get hearing aids. For those with moderate-to-severe hearing loss, getting hearing aids improved earnings 77% of the time.

 

Better Mental Faculties

With untreated hearing loss, it appears that the parts of the brain that interpret sound begin to atrophy, as they have less sound to interpret. This ultimately makes understanding speech more difficult, even after hearing aids come into use. What’s more, studies have linked untreated hearing loss to earlier onset of dementia and cognitive decline. It makes sense, doesn’t it? When we stop taking in new information (not necessarily “facts,” but the constant inflow of sights and sounds from the world around us) our brains have less to process, and they can more quickly “lose their edge.” Hearing aids help keep auditory information coming in, keeping the brain active.

 

Decreased Tinnitus

Tinnitus, that annoying ringing in the ears, is usually comorbid with hearing loss, especially noise-induced hearing loss. Many modern hearing aids have features that allow them to be tuned to help alleviate tinnitus, but even hearing aids that are not specifically designed to address tinnitus help reduce the annoyance of it. While the tinnitus stays the same “volume,” the sounds from outside get louder, reducing the impact tinnitus has on perception.

 

Improved Social Relationships

It may seem obvious, but when we improve our hearing, we improve our channels of communication with those closest to us. People who wear hearing aids report marked improvement in their relationships – with not just better communication, but increased intimacy, fewer arguments, and more activities.

 

Increased Life Satisfaction

People who get hearing aids are almost unanimously in favor of them. In a Better Hearing Institute survey, 91% of respondents reported satisfaction with their hearing aids, and almost 90% would recommend them to a friend who had hearing loss. This is not just because the hearing aids work well, but because life improves as a result of them.

Imagine all the benefits that hearing aids can have when we open ourselves back up to serendipity and all that life could ever throw our way. Sometimes we forget to imagine what’s possible, but if we stay open to the energy around us, things happen and life continues to unfold in interesting ways. Hearing aids help us keep living life!

Identifying the Signs of Hearing Loss

With about 35 million Americans suffering some form of hearing loss, it is likely that you or someone you know may experience hearing loss. Unfortunately, about two-thirds of people with hearing loss live without the benefits of treatment in the form of hearing aids.

On average, it takes seven years for a person to get hearing aids, once they notice they’re suffering from hearing loss. The thing about hearing loss is that it isn’t always obvious to the person suffering it, especially if it is symmetrical between the ears. When our vision is blurry, we know it. We see it everywhere we look! By contrast, it’s harder to know what aspects of the sonic landscape we’re missing out on when our hearing ability declines.

We might hear voices and think we’re hearing all there is to them. We might think people are mumbling, when in fact we could be missing some crucial high-frequency information. Sounds might be happening all around us that we don’t notice. Unless our hearing loss has come on very suddenly, we likely will not notice it happening until it is very advanced.

So how do we know it’s time to get our hearing tested and see if hearing aids would be recommended for us? Well, it’s a great idea to get a hearing test whether you know you need one or not, but there are some clues we can tune into that might indicate we could benefit from hearing loss treatment.

 

Signs of Hearing Loss

There are lots of cues to think about when trying to assess whether you might have a hearing loss. Let’s break them down by three broad types and take a look.

 

1- Conversational

We can think of a conversational cue to hearing loss as anything that involves real-time communication and speech recognition.

  • Do you ask people to repeat themselves, and sometimes still have difficulty making out what they’re saying on the second or third time?
  • What about talking in groups? If you have difficulty following a conversation in a group of people, it could be a sign of hearing loss.
  • If you think people are mumbling all the time, it could be that you’re not taking in the higher frequencies of their speech.
  • Do you spend time with small children? If you have trouble hearing their high-pitched voices, it could be a sign of hearing loss.
  • Do you find yourself pretending to hear in conversation? If we have to ask people to repeat themselves a few times, we are apt to give up and just start nodding in agreement to save the irritation of further interruptions. Missing out on the overall arc of someone’s story can definitely be a sign of hearing loss.

2- Technological

Here are a few things to pay attention to with the technology around you, to see if you might be suffering from hearing loss.

  • Do you frequently turn up the volume on the TV or the car radio? If you’re with someone else, do they ask you to turn them down? The mismatch in comfortable listening level might be indicative of hearing loss.
  • Have you slept through your alarm lately? Maybe you’re not hearing it! Hearing loss never sleeps.
  • Do you have trouble on the phone? Maybe you try to turn the phone up, and it won’t go any higher. Maximum phone volumes are set to be safe for consumers; if you need it louder, you’re likely suffering from hearing loss.
  • The last time you went to the movies, did you have a hard time understanding the dialogue? The actors probably did not mumble through the film… It is more likely that you have hearing loss.

3- Lifestyle Changes

As hearing loss progresses, we might find ourselves changing our habits away from things where hearing loss makes participation more difficult.

  • Have you discontinued a favored hobby?
  • Any social groups you’re a part of that you’re skipping out on lately?
  • Do you go to restaurants or bars less frequently?
  • Are you having trouble at work?
  • Spending less time with friends and family?

If you find yourself answering yes to these questions, hearing loss could be the cause. But there’s no need to speculate; schedule a hearing test and find out for sure whether you need hearing aids. Most of the problems outlined above can be solved or lessened with the use of hearing aids, so get a hearing test today!