Even before you are ready to have the hard conversation, don’t hesitate to ask what can make communication easier in their everyday life. Should you go to a quieter place for dinner? Do they need to turn down the background music when you talk? Opening up this kind of dialogue regularly can take a great deal of the stress away for both of you as well as take away the taboo of the subject.
Be sure to find a quiet, well-lit place without distractions or background noise. This will enable the other person to have full access to all the listening skills he or she has developed. It will also minimize distractions and enable both of you to concentrate on your discussion.
Hearing loss can make quite an impact on a person throughout the day. Your loved one might have a headache from straining to hear all day at the office, or might be aggravated that everyone around them is mumbling. Try not to leave the conversation until late in the day, when the stress of living with hearing loss has already taken its toll. Consider opening up your communication about their hearing loss early in the day on a low-stress day off.
Many individuals with hearing loss automatically begin to read the lips of the people with whom they are speaking. So, be sure to face your loved one directly and speak clearly and naturally. Don’t chew gum or attempt to talk with food in your mouth, as it will distort the shape of your lips and make interpreting more difficult.
While hearing loss is an emotional subject, bringing up factual points can help avoid those emotional minefields. Bring up some of the specific symptoms you’ve noticed. Highlight some facts about how common hearing loss is, and how easy it could be to address. Be sure to position all this as an observation, rather than an accusation. After all, this conversation comes from love, not blame.
Once you’ve stated your case, don’t rush to define a set diagnosis. This is where an evaluation from a licensed professional comes into play. These evaluations are free, simple, and encouraged for anyone over 50 as part of their annual check-up.
If your loved one is displaying symptoms of hearing loss, there is a lot of additional emotional turmoil they may be experiencing. They might not be quite ready to take action, or need additional time to process. Encourage them to pay attention to their behavior and see if they notice the same things you’re seeing. Give them some time to be a bit more aware and try having the conversation again in a few months. Hearing loss can be an emotional journey, and it often takes many years until a person is ready to take action. Taking a respectful approach to the touchy nature of the topic and offering sincere support can help shorten the process, and get our loved ones closer to hearing better days.