When a loved one is aging and losing their hearing, it can be heart breaking. Often, hearing loss is accompanied by denial, frustration, and a loss of ability to do routine activities such as watch television. There’s also a social cost, as it’s harder to communicate, participate in conversations, and socialize easily with family and friends. Elders that are facing hearing loss may find that they are feeling isolated and alone. But the good news is that dealing with hearing loss doesn’t have to be traumatic and your loved one can have some or all of their hearing restored in a short period of time. Here are a few steps to take if you suspect that hearing loss may be affecting a parent or other loved one.
Discuss the problem in a non-threatening way
Arrange a time to discuss the potential hearing loss with your loved one. Approach the conversation in a gentle, loving way. Keep your discussion factual, and refer to specific instances where you think this may be the case. For example, you might say, “I notice that you seem to have a hard time hearing when we speak on the phone,” or “You’ve dramatically increased the volume of the TV when you watch the news.” Ask if he or she has noticed any signs of hearing loss. Acknowledge that this may be frustrating, and create a safe space for your loved one to express their feelings. End the conversation on a high note, by stating that hearing loss is highly treatable and that you’d like to arrange a visit to a doctor.
Schedule an appointment with a medical professional
Depending on where you live and your healthcare plan, the first step may be setting up an appointment with your loved one’s primary care doctor. The doctor will be able to do a preliminary assessment and determine if it’s a temporary cause such as earwax buildup. If no immediate cause can be found, you’ll typically be referred to an ear, nose, and throat specialist. This hearing doctor will conduct testing that will reveal the details of the situation, the extent and cause of the hearing loss, and which ears are affected. You’ll learn if the situation is fixable, whether it’s likely to stay stable, or whether you can expect a decline in hearing over the years.
Explore treatment options
There are a number of treatment options for hearing loss that range from surgery to hearing aids. Your doctor may be able to recommend or even provide the solution. In other cases, they’ll provide general guidelines and you’ll need to locate a hearing aid specialist in your area. It’s easy to find a local hearing aid provider by Googling terms such as “hearing aids Staten Island.” Look for customer reviews, and meet with the store manager or sales associate to discuss your needs, budget, and aesthetic preferences.
Remember that losing your hearing can be a natural part of the aging process or the result of a traumatic accident. Medical and technological treatments for hearing loss have come a long way. Start by having a compassionate conversation with your loved one, and then schedule a visit to the doctor to learn more about your diagnosis and treatment options.
About the author: Eric Williams is a health writer that focuses on providing advice and support to families confronting the challenges of aging. When he’s not writing or playing golf, he’s taking care of his father who is currently an active and healthy 93 year old.