How to talk to a loved one about hearing loss

Hearing loss doesn't just affect the person who has it. It also affects spouses, family members and friends. From frustration with having to repeat things over and over to heartbreak at seeing someone you care about isolate themselves from the people and activities they love, the negative effects of hearing loss cast a wide net. Convincing a loved one to seek help is the right thing to do, but it's not always easy. Unlike eyesight, when hearing goes, people are in less of a hurry to do something about it — with many waiting five to seven years before finally seeking treatment. Be prepared for pushback with these responses.

My family doctor would have told me if I have hearing loss. Not true — less than 20 percent of physicians routinely screen for hearing loss during physicals.

Wearing a hearing aid will make my hearing loss obvious. Today's hearing aids are sleek and stylish or even invisible and certainly less noticeable than if you constantly ask people to repeat themselves, inappropriately respond, or don't respond at all. A little hearing loss is no big deal. The fact is, studies have linked untreated hearing loss to stress, depression, social rejection, and increased risk to personal safety, reduced earning power and more.

Don't be surprised if you get resistance ↘ Talk to your loved one about their hearing concerns ↘ Gently remind them of their loss every time you "translate" or repeat something for them ↘ Recommend they visit an Audiologist and get their questions answered ↘ Offer to schedule and attend a hearing consultation with them ↘ Remind them they have nothing to lose and potentially everything to gain by seeing an Audiologist.

Left untreated, hearing loss can affect a person's quality of life in many ways. Yet without even realizing it, you may be making it easier for someone not to seek help. Well-intentioned efforts such as repeating yourself or "translating" what others are saying may be preventing your loved one from realizing how much communication they fail to understand or miss completely.