“Darling, could bring me a glass of water while you’re up?”
“COULD YOU BRING ME SOME WATER, PLEASE.”
“Of course, Honey. But why are you yelling?”
Sound familiar? In the US alone around 18% of people say they’re struggling with hearing loss.
Around 8% of people 54-64 have disabling hearing impairment. By the time they reach 65, the risk is increased to 50%.
Hearing loss doesn’t only affect the person who has it. It can add daily challenges for loved ones if that person has chosen not to seek treatment.
Here’s what you need to know about living with someone with untreated hearing loss.
1. Approach with Patience & Love
You already knew this one. (Even though it’s frustrating.)
A person with untreated hearing loss is in a state of constant struggle. They have to work harder to hear and understand, just as hard as you work to be patient.
They may be beating their head against the wall when they can’t make out what you’re saying.
They realize they’re missing things that are important. They’re probably aware that you’re also frustrated.
Find it in your heart to love this person unconditionally, understanding what they’re going through as the two of you come together to find solutions.
2. Set Aside Time to Share
Staying silent is one of the worst things you can do when living with someone with hearing loss. It’s important that you continue to discuss with your loved one the things that matter to you and to your relationship.
Set aside some time in the day when you turn off any distractions. That includes fans, TVs and the dishwasher. Close the windows if it’s noisy outside and try to take care of any background noises. Eliminate anything else that keeps the two of you from communicating at your best.
Do this at least once each day. Make it a routine.
3. Share How You Feel
You’re not alone in this, and your feelings do matter. Whether you’re the son or the wife or someone caring for this person, if they are refusing to wear hearing aids, you need to express how this makes you feel.
You probably know new hearing aids take a little time to get used to. After that, a person with hearing aids can hear almost as well as a person without hearing loss. They can certainly communicate better and be more engaged.
Most people who delay getting hearing aids regret waiting once they experience the joy of hearing again.
You want this for your partner.
4. Empathize with Objections, but Be Armed with Knowledge
Most people who have untreated hearing loss have the following objections. Empathize with them but don’t support the misunderstandings. Instead, learn the facts for yourself. When your partner says:
- Hearing aids will make me seem old — point out (gently) that constantly asking what?! makes a person seem much older. It can add 10-15 years to how they come off in conversation.
- Hearing aids are big and clunky — that’s not true anymore. Today hearing aids are barely noticeable. But poor hearing is very noticeable.
- Hearing aids don’t work for me — it takes a few weeks to a couple months to get the full hearing aid experience. During this time, a person is adjusting. The hearing aids are also adjusting by learning how a person hears best. Encourage your loved one to try again and work with them to speed up the adjustment period.
- Hearing aids are too expensive — There is some upfront cost. That’s true. But you’ll see in the next section that the cost of not wearing hearing aids is much greater.
- I’m just having trouble hearing. It’s not that big a deal — Let’s look at why that’s not true.
4. Bring Some Research to the Conversation
People with untreated hearing loss often develop other health concerns:
- They’re 24% more likely to fall into cognitive decline.
- Doctors can actually see notable brain shrinkage on an MRI scan. Yikes!
- Dementia risk is 64% higher.
- They’re twice as likely to suffer from depression.
- 1 in 16 people polled said they had threatened divorce if their spouse didn’t get help.
Each of these has significant costs to health and happiness that far exceed the cost of hearing aids. And many of these same studies showed that wearing hearing aids reversed the risk to that of a person who still has their hearing.
5. Encourage Your Loved One to Schedule an Appointment Now
“Now” is important. Waiting reduces the chances of follow-through. Support your loved one in making an appointment with a hearing specialist today.