I Think My Family Member Has Hearing Loss… What Should I Do?
Communication is how we participate in the world. It is how we build and maintain relationships with others.
What happens when you start to notice that a family member is not communicating with you as effectively as they used to? Maybe they are frequently taking longer to respond, telling you to speak up, or asking you repeat what has been said.
Many people do not recognize their own hearing challenges because it happens so gradually.
Here are five steps that you can take to support a family member with hearing loss.
The first thing you can do is communicate how you feel. Maybe you have already suggested a hearing test but your family member dismissed it. Many people with reduced hearing do not realize that they are experiencing difficulties. It is important to keep calm and offer your support to the affected individual whilst voicing your concern for their health and well being.
Discovering a hearing loss can be very emotional to everyone involved, be prepared that their initial instinct might be to deny it because they often do not recognize how much they are missing.
Sometimes talking about the health benefits of good hearing health can encourage persons to seek help for their hearing loss, however, repeated efforts may be needed before they do so.
2. Screening and Testing
Next, suggest that your family member have their hearing checked.
A good place to start is by booking a complimentary hearing screening with the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association Newfoundland and Labrador (CHHA-NL). This screening will allow a Hearing Loss Support Specialist to determine whether a referral for a full evaluation by a hearing care professional is needed.
If a hearing loss is diagnosed by a hearing care professional, the individual will be offered a treatment based on their individual hearing needs. The hearing professional will help guide them through this process and provide them with access to information on supportive technologies.
Educate yourself on communication strategies, as well as the types of hearing assistive technology available to support your family member.
CHHA-NL is a reliable source of information and provides support to people with hearing loss, as well as their families.
Keep in mind that there is no “one size fits all solution” for reduced hearing, and that what works for someone else may not work for your family member.
It is also important to have realistic expectations of what assistive technology can and cannot do. Technology is used as an aid to understanding the sounds of everyday life, not as a cure.
4. Connect With Others
CHHA-NL has several resource groups, as well as private online Facebook groups, which will allow you to meet others to connect, share information, learn and grow.
Each group will connect you with trained staff and volunteers, relevant information, research and special events. Groups are open to anyone who is interested, including family members. This is a good way to find new resources and meet others who understand your situation.
It is important to support the individual who has hearing loss.
Be patient, advocate for them if needed, encourage them to advocate for themselves, and help them in situations where you know it will be difficult for them to hear.
Be sure to practice good communication skills when speaking to the individual. Many people with reduced hearing find that they are exhausted at the end of a long day of listening. It is possible to ease this by repeating the important points of a conversation, speaking clearly, and reducing background noise to help them understand.
At first, it may seem overwhelming when a family member is diagnosed with reduced hearing, however, it does not have to be.
Educating yourself on the supports and treatments available for your family member with hearing loss can improve relationships and provide them with motivation to continue to use their assistive devices.
You are not alone. Reach out to the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association- Newfoundland and Labrador, and we can provide you with support, as well as connect you to other people who are in a similar situation.