How to talk to someone about the signs of hearing loss this National Hearing Awareness Week

Happy senior couple laughing together. She is wearing a hearing aid.

This week marks National Hearing Awareness Week, a week that aims to raise awareness of hearing loss and promote the importance of maintaining healthy hearing. Here are some tips for supporting someone who may be showing the signs of hearing loss.

Hearing loss happens gradually, and often the ones experiencing it are not the first to notice, it is those around them. Telling someone you know they may be showing the signs of hearing loss is a difficult subject to bring up. Here are some tips from Australian Hearing on how you could support someone in your life who is showing the signs of hearing loss.

  1. Getting help may take time: Surprisingly, your loved one may not know their hearing is getting worse as the changes are gradual. Hearing loss is often associated with getting older, and to admit that they have something wrong could be confronting.
  2.  Perhaps you have noticed that they are no longer enjoying activities that they used to enjoy for example, they are no longer participating in dinner conversations, or struggle to hear when going to the movies. You could gently bring it up with a conversation starter such as: “I noticed the other day when we were out for dinner you were finding it difficult to hear.” They may not even be aware that they have a hearing loss, and may avoid social situations all together or complain (that it was too noisy). Assist them if they are finding a social situation difficult.
  3. Ensure you face a person with hearing loss when you speak, having someone face you makes it easier to understand. Get into a habit of stating your friends name first. I.e “James, can you please pass me the remote.” They then will know that you are talking to them, and won’t assume you are talking to someone else.
  4. Try to avoid places with lots of background noise. Background noise makes it difficult for people with a hearing impairment concentrate on the sounds they should be hearing. A space like a busy cafe with hardwood floors is difficult to hear, as sound bounces off these environments, and there is a lot of background noise.
  5. Remind them that the earlier they seek help the better their hearing may be in the long run. If they seek help and are fitted with an aid it could take a month or so for the brain to adjust.
  6. Be patient: it can be frustrating having to repeat yourself, but understand your friend is going through their journey to acceptance. Allow them time for them to come around and get help.

So, what are some of the common signs of hearing loss?

  • Saying the the television is up too loud
  • Entire sections of conversations are missed
  • Listening on the phone is difficult
  • Ringing in the ears (potential tinnitus)
  • Difficulty hearing higher pitched sounds.
  • Talk openly and honestly with your friends or loved ones if you feel like they may have a hearing loss. There is always help available and a hearing check is easy to organise. You could always suggest you both get a hearing check together. The sooner you get help the better your hearing will be in the long run.

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