Encouraging a Loved One to Take a Hearing Test

Around 48 million Americans today are dealing with some type of hearing loss. Age-related hearing loss is by far the most common type of hearing loss that requires treatment. About one-third of people between ages 60–69 have hearing loss, and the fraction climbs to two-thirds above age 70. Nearly 100% of centenarians have hearing loss, suggesting we’ll all experience hearing loss if we live long enough.

While some people are quick to seek out hearing aids once they notice a hearing loss, others take a while to come around to the idea. In fact, people tend to wait an average of seven years from the time they notice a hearing loss to the time they make an appointment for a hearing test and start treating it with hearing aids.

Unfortunately, hearing loss affects not only the person who has it, but also those who are close to them. It can be frustrating to need to speak loudly, repeat yourself over and over, and help translate the speech of others.

Perhaps your loved one denies that they have hearing loss at all, or maybe they think they don’t have enough hearing loss yet to start wearing hearing aids. Whatever the case, there are some steps you can take to help them see their way clear to getting the hearing healthcare they need.

Do Some Research

You don’t need to become an expert on hearing loss, but a few hours researching some of the treatment options can give you enough knowledge to help set your loved one’s mind at ease. Find out some of the treatment options in your area. Research some of the positive effects that hearing aids have for people. For example, those who wear hearing aids are at a lower risk for cognitive decline and dementia, and they tend to feel more self-confident and independent!

Your loved one may associate hearing aids with old age and a lack of independence. This impression is relatively common, but couldn’t be further from the truth. Hearing aids actually encourage greater independence, and allow people to feel younger. When we can’t hear, we tend to become more apprehensive about the world, avoiding social situations and staying indoors more often. Hearing aids let us feel safer when we’re out and about, and help encourage us to spend more time doing the things we love.

Pick an Appropriate Time and Place

It’s best to talk to your loved one in a one-on-one setting, rather than at a family gathering or other group outing. Choose a place with good lighting and a quiet background. Hearing loss makes it especially difficult to understand speech when background noise is present, and good lighting will help them read your lips. Be sure to face them when you speak, and remember that hearing loss is exhausting. They may not be able to have a very long conversation.

Listen

Tell your loved one about your own experience of their hearing loss, but also ask questions and give them the space to talk about their experience. They likely have some fear and apprehension, especially if they’ve been in denial that there’s a problem. Ask if there are times that are difficult or frustrating for them.

Avoid blaming them for waiting so long to treat their hearing loss, and don’t push the idea of getting a hearing test right away. Ask questions that help open them up to the idea that there is help available to them, if they only wish to seek it. Pushing too hard can have the opposite of the desired effect, and make them dig their heels in on the issue.

Remember that the point is not just to get your loved one into an audiologist’s office, or to get them to purchase hearing aids. You want your loved one to actually wear the hearing aids they get, and to enjoy them. Most people (over 90%) say they are happy that they got hearing aids, when asked after one year. But if your loved one feels coerced into getting their hearing aids, they are not likely to give themself the chance to appreciate them.

Offer Support

If your loved one is open to getting a hearing test, offer to make the appointment and accompany them. Your moral support can mean a world of difference while they go through the process of getting their hearing aids. Hearing aids have been shown time and again to improve the lives of people with hearing loss—and their relationships with others, like yourself! When your loved one is ready, call to schedule a hearing test and get the process underway.

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