Ways to Accommodate Your Loved Ones with Hearing Loss
Sooner or later, most people will encounter a situation where a loved one is diagnosed with hearing loss. About 20 percent of Americans report some degree of hearing loss. The incidence of hearing loss jumps to one in three people over age 65. It’s a condition that affects a considerable portion of the population, and those numbers will only increase as our country ages.
When someone you love is diagnosed with hearing loss, it can feel almost equally disruptive to your life. While asking your loved one for ways you can be of help is a great idea, there are a few strategies to tap into that will allow you to accommodate your loved one’s hearing loss better.
Be there as a sounding board
Now that your loved one has received their hearing loss diagnosis, you can step up to provide them with what they’ll need as they investigate methods of intervention.
First and foremost, a period of mourning is likely necessary. Understanding and accepting that their formerly healthy hearing is gone forever is a considerable undertaking. The best thing you can do to support them through this is to listen as they navigate their way towards finding peace with their hearing loss.
Ongoing emotional support
Encourage your loved one to delve into the resources of support available. Support groups composed of folks with hearing loss can be found in most locations and certainly online. Providing a safe space to talk about the struggles, challenges, and triumphs of hearing loss with those who face the same reality.
Forging ahead through this next chapter of your loved one’s life together will inevitably bring growth and comfort to you both. But nothing compares to the emotional support of someone you already share a deep connection with. Moreover, the obstacles we face together in our closest relationships deepen our bonds.
Be prepared for changes
The way you spent time together may change now that your loved one is diagnosed with hearing loss. Perhaps you and your loved one had a standing weekly brunch date. This might not be the best place for you to connect now that hearing loss has made dining out a problematic scenario to enjoy. Instead, perhaps you shift your quality time together to a coffee or tea break in the quiet and comfort of your own homes while they adjust to hearing aids or listening devices.
If catching the game at a sports bar was how you and your loved one used to bond, you may have to seek another method. You might try an activity that doesn’t involve television volumes that are never loud enough or attempting conversation in a situation with tremendous amounts of distracting background noise.
Let them make mistakes
While it’s difficult to watch someone you love struggle through learning new behaviors in challenging situations, you have to let them take the reins of their hearing loss. Don’t automatically step in and translate during conversations they’re noticeably confused by unless specifically asked. We, as human beings, learn by trying, which sometimes means making mistakes. If you think back, you can probably point to a few scenarios in which making the mistake was the only way you were able to improve your skills.
Don’t disclose their hearing loss before they do. That is their information to share, and if they want the condition to be known, it is their choice as to when and to whom they reveal their hearing loss if you’d like to help them in this process or to lend a hand in helping them practice their disclosure strategies.
Help them with the process of getting a hearing aid
Despite working with even the best of audiologists, searching for the perfect hearing aid will doubtless be overwhelming. Having a hand to hold or a sounding board as they decipher what works best for them can be an invaluable gift.
The audiology field has exploded in recent years with new advancements. It’s incredible to see how today’s hearing devices incorporate Bluetooth and wireless capability to integrate hearing aids into the modern lifestyle seamlessly.