Helping someone with hearing loss
It can be upsetting to see someone you care about start to withdraw and not engage fully with those around them because they’re unable to hear.
Hearing loss can be difficult to recognise and people sometimes feel a stigma about the possibility of having to wear a hearing aid, which means they don’t deal with it in the same way they would if it was their eyesight that was worsening.
It’s important for anyone with hearing loss to acknowledge that the condition is extremely common and completely natural, and unfortunately, is somewhat inevitable with age. Most of us will likely experience it at some point in our lives and leaving it untreated can only lead to further degeneration and possibly other linked medical conditions, like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
The signs to recognise
Hearing loss is often gradual and the symptoms aren’t always obvious, but these are the signs to look out for so you can help someone you care about, who you think may be suffering with hearing loss:
- They complain that everyone is talking quietly or mumbling
- They keep asking people to repeat themselves
- They struggle to join the conversation in a noisy or group environment
- They need the TV volume turned up
- They don’t hear the doorbell
- They don’t hear cars approaching when out walking
- They struggle to hear on the phone
- They complain about whistling or ringing in their ears
The benefits of a hearing test
Whilst receiving treatment for hearing loss rarely reverses the damage already done, it can slow it down, and gives peace of mind in knowing what the root cause is and how to make life easier. Hearing solutions can help with mental sharpness and slow down the onset of dementia, as hearing loss interferes with the brain’s ability to process sounds and recognise speech.
Hearing loss left untreated
Hearing loss has a huge impact on our health and our wellbeing, so it is encouraging that it is largely preventable or treatable with cost-effective interventions. But left untreated it can:
- Lead to withdrawal from social situations and isolation
- Cause loneliness and depression
- Increase the risk of dementia by up to 5 times
How to show your support
- If someone you care about is suffering from untreated hearing loss, you can show your support by helping them to hear, especially when you’re in a group and it is noisy. Perhaps sit next to them at a family gathering so you can make sure they are not left out of the conversation or miss out on what is being talked about.
- Don’t talk loudly or shout at someone with hearing loss in the hope they will hear you better. It can just distort the sound and they may be sensitive to loud sounds.
- If you need to get their attention, give them a wave or a gentle tap, and make sure you are facing them when you talk to them. Speak slowly and clearly and try to minimize background noise.
If they cannot hear what you are saying, don’t just repeat it again word for word, but louder. Try changing the words you are using. Be patient, be kind and keep trying.
- Encourage them to seek help and to book an appointment with their local Audiologist at their local optician’s practice. It may be where they already go to get their glasses. If they are reluctant at first, gently remind them each time you have to repeat something for them, or help them hear what is being said in a group situation.
- Offer to go with them to their hearing consultation and reassure them that they have nothing to lose and a whole world to regain!