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How to Approach Someone About Hearing Loss

Bringing up hearing loss with a family member or friend can be intimidating, but it’s important for their health. Here’s how to approach someone about hearing loss without fear of confrontation or awkwardness. Many people have experienced something like this when they spend time with their family: Your parent or spouse is watching television and the volume seems too loud, so you grab for the remote control…only to be told that the volume is now too soft. Or, you are telling a story at the dinner table and a loved one keeps asking you to repeat yourself, even though you are sure your voice is audible and clear. When instances such as these become commonplace, it might be time to approach your family member about a potential hearing loss, and the solutions that are available. It’s a necessary conversation, but it can be difficult to know how to broach the subject.

What Not To Do

If you are concerned that your loved one’s quality of life is being impacted by hearing loss, but he or she doesn’t believe there is a problem, you might need to look at your own behavior. Often, those closest to a person inadvertently ‘enable’ them and mask the reality of a hearing problem, which makes it that much harder to convince them that action is needed. If someone you love isn’t hearing well, don’t repeat yourself over and over, or raise your voice so they can hear you. Also, resist the urge to translate for them in person or on the phone. When family members stop enabling, a person with hearing challenges understands just how much they are missing. If the people around them refuse to compensate for the problem, they will be more likely to admit the problem and seek assistance.

The Time is Right to Talk About It

Because age-related hearing loss comes on gradually, the person whose hearing is deteriorating is often the last one to know. So, approach him or her with gentleness and patience when it’s time to confront the issue. Emphasize the value you place on your relationship with the person, and the detrimental effect the hearing loss is having on your connection. Mention how common hearing issues are later in life—it is estimated that 50 percent of Americans over the age of 75 suffer from the condition—and how much more effective and discreet hearing aids are today than they were even 10 years ago. If you are rejected, be patient and keep trying. Most people who use hearing aids say that they were eventually won over by persistent family members who had their best interest at heart. In fact, that’s the leading reported reason someone makes an appointment to have their hearing checked! You also might want to enlist other family members to raise the subject if your message doesn’t seem to be getting through.

Navigating Next Steps

The first website you should visit once your loved one agrees to look into solutions for potential hearing loss is www.beltone.com. You can take an online hearing check, make an appointment with a specialist at one of our Beltone Hearing Care Centers across the nation, and investigate the many options for discreet, digital, high-quality hearing aids. Be sure to offer to accompany your loved one to his or her appointment, and know that our Licensed Hearing Care Professionals put every patient at ease and present the latest information to help families make an informed decision about hearing intervention.

What tips do you have that would help someone approach a loved one about hearing loss? Share them with us below.

Ken LaFerle, Au.D.
Ken is Beltone's Director of Educational Services and has been "bleeding Beltone Blue" for the last 26 years. He has been working in the hearing industry for the last 31 years and thoroughly enjoys the hearing care field and is looking forward to sharing his thoughts and experiences on the blog. More about Ken

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