When one of your close family members appears to begin losing his or her hearing, it can lead to some challenging conversations and interactions as the person struggles to hear. It's important to remember that despite any inconveniences posed to you by this situation, such as having to constantly repeat yourself, the person is going through a difficult time and may even be feeling embarrassed by the situation. Some people who struggle to hear will be tentative about discussing the problem or even admitting it to family members, but you can play a helpful role by sharing your concerns the right way and helping the person take action. Here's how.
Wait Till the Right Time to Talk
Even if the person's hearing struggles are leading to some uncomfortable moments at family gatherings, the last thing you should do is raise the issue of hearing loss in front of a group. Doing so will only embarrass the person further, and it might appear that you're being critical even if your intention is only to help. Instead, find a time at which you're one-on-one with the person or solely with the person and his or her spouse. You can even schedule a time to talk to the person, such as arranging a get-together over tea.
Share Your Concerns
When you discuss the issue of hearing loss with your family member, it's important to approach the subject from a place of compassion and concern. Don't express how the person's hearing struggles are inconveniencing you— remember, this issue is about the person, not you or others in your family. Share that you're concerned the person might be missing out on some valuable conversations and empathetically suggest that this might be upsetting for the person. Approaching the subject matter from this perspective is more likely to get a favorable response from the person and lead to some positive action.
Offer Help with the Next Steps
End your conversation by suggesting the next steps that might be useful to take and by pledging your support along the way. Typically, it's useful for the person to visit a hearing specialist for a hearing test that will reveal how to proceed; in many cases, one or two hearing aids will greatly improve the person's ability to hear. You can offer your assistance by booking the appointment for the person and sitting in on the appointment with him or her, too. Through these actions, your support will be clear and the person won't feel alone in this situation.
For more information about ways to help a person with hearing loss, contact a representative from an establishment like Audiologists Northwest.