Hearing loss affects approximately 34 million Americans, or 11% of the population! While its impact is felt mainly by senior citizens (50% of those over 75 have the condition), hearing loss is increasing among baby boomers and young people alike.
The reasons for hearing loss are many, but advancing age is the most common cause. As we get older, damage can occur to the nerves in the inner ear that relay sound to the brain. This damage is called sensori-neural hearing loss. Unfortunately, damage to these nerves is final, so age-related hearing loss is irreversible. The good news: hearing aids help over 90% of the time.
A frequent reaction in people with hearing loss is denial. Because age-related hearing loss occurs gradually, many don't realize it has happened. They think others are mumbling, or background noise is to blame. Some deny the condition because they fear the bulky hearing aids of yesteryear. Others point out that the family doctor never “said anything”. Whatever reason your loved one gives for refuting reality, hearing loss invariably takes its toll on everyday activities, relationships, even a person's mental and physical well-being.
You can make a difference, however. Try these 10 ways to help your loved one take the first step.
Communicate Your Feelings – Tell your loved one how much you value the relationship, and how his/her hearing loss affects you. Do so with compassion and tenderness; avoid using threats, confrontation or guilt.
Reach Out – Ask your grown children, a close friend or a trusted doctor to gently recommend professional help. Sometimes, encouragement coming from others is better received.
Research Payment Options – If perceived cost is a concern, gather information on healthcare payment plans. There are many attractive financial options available for purchasing hearing aids.
Lead by Example – Have annual hearing exams yourself!
Share Information on Hearing Solutions – Today's hearing aids are tiny, lightweight, and utilize state-of-the art technology. Do some research to dispel misconceptions your loved one may hold about hearing aids.
Tell “Success Stories” – Talk with friends who've had positive outcomes with their hearing aids, and tell your loved one about their experiences.
Ask Yourself, Do I Enable? – Repeating yourself, elevating your voice, and relaying phone/television conversation encourages your loved one to delay seeking help, so refrain from being his/her “ears”.
See a Professional Hearing Care Specialist – A proper diagnosis by a skilled hearing care practitioner is essential for a customized solution. The right hearing aid will make all the difference for your loved one.
Go Together – Accompany your loved one to a hearing exam and participate in the process. Your input will better inform the hearing care specialist and improve the likelihood of a successful treatment.
Hang in There! – Research tells us that continuous “family recommendation and pressure” is the number one reason people seek hearing aids. So, continued patience, compassion and factual information will surely pay off!
At Beltone, we specialize in making “first-time” patients feel right at home. Schedule a FREE hearing assessment.