At Shelby Hearing Center, we occasionally get a phone call that goes something like this: “My husband (could also be a wife or other family member) needs help with his hearing. But he doesn’t think his hearing is that bad. What can I do to convince him that his hearing is worse than he thinks and that he needs to make an appointment with you?”
If this sounds like your situation, you’re definitely not alone. Quite often, people who have a hearing loss don’t recognize the existence or severity of their problem. This is especially true for individuals who have learned to cope with their hearing loss over several years. (Amazingly, everyone in the world seems to know about the hearing problem except for the person who has it!)
Meanwhile, family members must adapt to the hearing loss. They constantly have to repeat themselves. The TV or radio is always turned up too loud. And everyone attends fewer and fewer social engagements because of embarrassment over missed punch lines and inappropriate responses to questions.
Unfortunately, the longer you tolerate these circumstances, the more difficult it is to facilitate change. At the same time, pushing too hard can be counterproductive. What’s a person to do? Following are eight tips for gently leading someone to hearing help:
- Be kindhearted when discussing the hearing loss and its impact. Avoid sounding defensive or judgmental.
- Gently remind the person every time you have to repeat or “translate” something.
- Talk about the effects of the hearing loss on other family members and friends; cite specific situations — but again, without coming across as critical.
- Discuss the person’s withdrawal from social situations and the importance of these interactions to both of your lives.
- Share information about the documented health risks associated with untreated hearing loss, including depression and dementia.
- Relay the positive story of someone you both know who has benefited from hearing aids. You might even ask this person to join the conversation.
- Suggest a visit to a hearing healthcare professional for a hearing evaluation and an opportunity to get questions answered. Offer to accompany the person.
- Be patient, and don’t give up. I’ve observed that it often takes many small steps for someone to finally admit the need for help and finally make an appointment.
I hope these tips are helpful, and I encourage you to call Shelby Hearing Center at 1-877-465-6068 if you’d like further guidance. Lastly, rest assured that your loved one can come into our office and meet with me without any obligation whatsoever.
Dr. Kay Young is an audiologist at
Shelby Hearing Center, where she
has served individuals with hearing
loss since 1984.