How to Support Hearing-Impaired Loved-Ones?

a happy family eating dinner and laughing

Losing your hearing can have quite an impact on your life. Most people take their hearing for granted and underestimate how much we put our ears through during our day-to-day lives. Hearing loss can happen at any age, and being able to support a loved one, family member or friend through hearing loss will help you understand better what they are going through and the impact this is having on them.

How hearing loss affects your life

On average, it takes around seven years for older people to get treatment for hearing loss. If you are worried that someone close to you is experiencing hearing loss, there are signs you may have noticed:

  • Isolation: People who may not be hearing as well as they are used to may isolate themselves if they are struggling with making sense of what is happening and are finding it difficult to hide or adjust.
  • Asking you to repeat what you have said: Have you noticed an increase in phrases such as sorry, can you repeat that? Or similar? If so, it may be that they cannot understand you
  • Ignoring others: They are not ignoring other people; they simply are not hearing them if they can’t see them talking or are not aware, they are being addressed personally.
  • Shouting or mumbling: People who have hearing impairments are unaware of how low or even how low they are talking.
  • Behavioral changes: Short temper, irritability and becoming withdrawn. All of these signs could be indicators that your loved one may have hearing loss.
  • Watching TV or listening to music at higher levels: If someone has difficulty hearing, you will notice they are listening to things or watching TV shows/movies on TV at a much higher volume.

It may be true that they have not even realized something is wrong, especially in younger children or older people. Knowing what signs to look out for can mean you are at an advantage in getting them some help to deal with hearing loss or rectify the issue if this is possible.

In young children, the signs could be different, especially if it is just one ear. Look for head tilts, or try talking to them from different angles and see how they react. Watch how they look at you and where they concentrate when you speak to them.

Causes of hearing loss

Many different things can cause hearing loss. These include ear infections, a buildup of wax and more complicated cases such as hereditary hearing loss, age, an injury or the result of certain infections such as mumps and measles.

The most common cause of hearing loss is sensorineural hearing loss. This is damage to the inner ear nerves and hair cells. Treatment and help are usually in the form of hearing aids and cannot be corrected with medicine or surgery.

Conductive hearing loss is when there is an obstruction in the outer or inner ear. This type of hearing loss can be rectified with treatments or surgery in most cases.

Supporting loved ones with hearing loss

  • Firstly, it is important you have patience when dealing with a loved one who has hearing loss. They too will be experiencing their own frustrations at what is happening. People experiencing hearing loss will need help and support as they come to terms with what is happening to them.
  • Speak clearly and to their face when talking to them. Avoid talking louder as this may cause more confusion. Small things like this will help them to hear what you are saying better and follow the conversation. It may help to speak slower too, and use shorter sentences.
  • Discuss what is happening with them, offer support for appointments and visit a hearing instrument specialist (HIS).
  • Avoid loud environments and try to select places where there is less noise so they can communicate more easily with you.
  • Avoid repeating what you have already said and try paraphrasing your conversation if they need help catching up. It may help to write things down too.
  • Try to reduce phone calls and try text messages or video calls so they can see your face when you talk. Changing how you communicate can make all the difference when someone is living with hearing loss.

If you are worried about a loved one who may be experiencing hearing loss, you can get in touch with us at Sandia Hearing Aid Center by calling this phone number at 505-715-4387.