Hearing loss affects not only the ones experiencing it but also the ones around them such as family members and friends. Physically, the inability to hear certain sounds or voices can put people at risk and even in danger. Emotionally, family members and friends are left feeling frustrated and even sad at what their loved one is experiencing.
Many times, your first reaction may be to try to help but you don’t know how to do so. Maybe you aren’t sure how to address the issue or when you do your loved one denies the problem or resists getting treatment.
Most people who are experiencing hearing loss wait 5-7 years before they actually seek help. For family members, this waiting period can leave you exhausted, frustrated, and even angry. You may get tired of having to talk louder and repeat what you say. You may feel as though your loved one is isolating him/her self, which may cause you to miss out on fun social opportunities. In your mind, the problem is obvious, so why aren’t they getting help?
While these feelings are very common, you have to understand what it’s like from their point of view. Those who have hearing loss may not necessarily realize it because they literally cannot hear what they are missing. It’s easy for you, as someone with normal hearing, to see what all the person is missing. However, to them, they aren’t missing anything because they aren’t aware that they are missing anything.
You raise your voice and repeat what you say thinking that this will help your loved one, but in reality, it could very well make the situation worse. Overly accommodating can actually be counter-productive because it keeps your loved one in denial. The biggest role you can play in their life is to help them come to terms with their hearing loss. Every time you talk louder, nicely make them aware that you are doing so. Also, make them aware of how often you have to help them. This will make it much more difficult for them to deny the problem.
In dealing with those who having hearing loss, it is important to always express compassion and love. Hearing loss can be embarrassing for those experiencing it. As previously discussed, many times people aren’t ready to accept it, and you must respect that. Don’t just explode one day and have a full-blown conversation all at once about how they need to get help. The conversation might require small steps over months or even years.
Instead of focusing on the negative aspects and how frustrated you feel, try talking to your loved one about the impact their hearing loss has on your relationship. Share with them the stories, conversations, and experiences they are missing.
The key is to stay calm and approach the situation with objectivity no matter how angry you may be. Gently express your concerns and encourage them to do research to get their questions answered. Offer to schedule and attend an appointment with them. Most of all, just remind them that they have nothing to lose but so much to gain from visiting a hearing professional.