Growing older brings many psychological benefits such as experience, maturity and wisdom but when it comes to the body, things don’t always work exactly how they used to. Joints wear out, muscles tighten up and for some reason or another, hearing starts to deteriorate.
The difficulty is that many of these problems have a very gradual onset, making it almost imperceptible in the beginning. However, before too long, there could be a fairly substantial hearing loss which impacts on the quality of everyday life.
Not every individual is willing to face up to the fact that their body is showing signs of aging, which makes managing hearing loss and getting treatment almost impossible. If you have a relative whose hearing has become a problem, there are some things you can do to help.
Don’t Surprise Them with the Conversation
If you’ve decided to speak to your relative about their age-related hearing loss, you’ll need to choose your moment very carefully. They’ve probably noticed that things don’t sound as clear as they did before, but if they haven’t taken action they could be in denial.
Blurting out your concerns mid-way through a conversation will only get their defenses up and won’t help you to discuss the subject calmly. Although you may notice their hearing loss, don’t mention it until you have the right time and place to discuss it properly.
What this means is having sufficient time to be able to introduce the subject gently, and not in front of others where your loved one could feel embarrassed. Be firm about your observations but gentle too; it’s not easy accepting that things have changed for good.
Don’t Bulldoze Them
If you’re properly prepared for the conversation, you’ll probably have given it a lot of thought beforehand. While this is a good idea, don’t forget that the older individual may have been consciously pushing the idea away.
Therefore, to get to the same point, you may take a bit more time and rumination on the subject. Give them the space to think things over and allow them to reach a decision that’s right for them.
One of the worst things you can do is charge in with a pre-prepared solution which doesn’t take into account how they might feel, or what they want to do. Instead, you could find it more beneficial to focus on how hearing loss is impairing their quality of life, and how that makes them feel.
This creates a base from which you can lead into the possible solutions, helping to guide the conversation to cover the areas you want to raise.
Provide Your Full Support
Once you raise the subject and promise to provide support, make sure you stick to your word. The process of getting hearing loss investigated and treated may take some time, and there could be a number of different decisions along the way. Your relative will need your ongoing support, and the reassurance that you’re right there with them.
Sometimes this might mean giving them a bit of space, and at others it could mean being available to sit and talk through the alternatives and their concerns. Older people have many of the same worries that you might, such as whether a hearing aid may make them look older, or whether it would be unsightly. Honest reassurance will be invaluable and help them to make the choices which are right for them.
A Common Problem
Hearing loss is something that affects many people as they grow older with some studies suggesting it could affect between up to 50% of seniors. This doesn’t mean it’s not a difficult subject to face, and your support in facing up to the issue could be instrumental in improving your loved one’s quality of life.