Many of us know the struggle of trying to get a loved one to take a hearing test. Even though it is painfully obvious to us that they are in need of hearing aids, they throw away the pamphlets and insist that they’re doing just fine without them.
Unfortunately, there is a body of evidence from study after study that indicates they will not do just fine without hearing aids. Hearing loss is fatiguing for the sufferer, in large part due to the extra processing required by the brain to try to compensate for the imperfect information coming in from the ears. The risks of untreated hearing loss not only include alienating friends and loved ones, but increased chances of cognitive decline and dementia, and even physical injury. Once hearing loss begins, if it is not treated, there is a cascade of negative effects waiting to follow. So how can we convince our loved ones to do what is best for them and get their hearing tested?
ORGANIZE A GROUP EVENT
Going as a group can take some of the pressure off. And not everyone in the party need be obviously suffering from hearing loss. The earlier hearing loss is detected the better, so why not get tested yourself, while you’re at it? Perhaps there are situations in your normal routines where you should be protecting your hearing with earplugs, or perhaps there are other ways that a hearing healthcare professional would recommend you adjust your lifestyle to protect against hearing loss. An early screening will be good for you and help your loved one overcome some of their resistance to the process.
DO SOME RESEARCH
Chances are your loved one has already given you a few excuses as to why they don’t need or don’t want hearing aids. But in fact, over 90% of people who get hearing aids end up liking them. Do an internet search for some of your loved one’s concerns, and you’ll be sure to find some counterpoints.
For example, many people think of hearing aids as the old, bulky, whistling contraptions of the last century. Modern hearing aids are inconspicuous and far better at their job. They can help set human speech apart from background noise, integrate with Bluetooth, and be fitted (programmed) for any number of individual needs.
It’s also the case that most people wait about 7 years after the onset of hearing loss before they get hearing aids, when they could have been taking advantage of the benefits of treatment the whole time. Part of the reason for this is that it is so difficult for a person with hearing loss to realize that they have hearing loss. This has to do with the way the brain interprets the information from our ears. When we need vision correction, we can usually tell by seeing how fuzzy the world looks, but with hearing loss, we don’t know what we can’t hear. It is more often than not that friends and family realize a person is suffering from hearing loss before they do.
DON’T GET EMOTIONAL
It’s hard not to get frustrated when your loved one refuses care that would benefit them so deeply, but remember that it’s ultimately about them and not you. You don’t want this to be an opportunity to vent at them about how their hearing loss is making your life more difficult- you want this to be a turning point in their refusal to seek treatment.
You’ll need to talk about some of the times when their hearing loss was problematic, but don’t bring up incidents that became heated. Maybe you were at a movie and they didn’t hear the dialogue, or they had difficulty at a family dinner. Let them know how you felt about the situation, but more importantly, ask them how they felt about it, and let them talk uninterrupted. Hearing loss is likely one of a number of concerns that they’re having at a transitional time of life, and they might need some time to sort through their feelings about a myriad of issues. Assure them that you’ll be there for them through the process and remember to keep their best interests at heart.