Knowing someone with hearing loss

Reading Time: 5 minutes
"by " Albert Stein

The person suffering from hearing loss is usually not the only one affected. Close relatives such as spouses, children, grandchildren and friends will all benefit from when the hearing loss is treated. Show your loved one that you care and help by giving them a caring nudge towards a hearing center, to help them along the way.

If someone you know is suffering from untreated hearing loss, you will probably find their social behavior has changed. They may have withdrawn from social activities and feel shame, guilt or anger. They may also become more self-critical, frustrated and depressed. All these types of behavior can also have a negative effect on you as a relative or friend. The person with hearing loss may not be fully aware of its extent or may even be in denial. In these cases, it takes courage, patience and persistence to get your loved one to accept that they are suffering from hearing loss.

It can be very exhausting to spend a lot of time with someone who has an untreated hearing loss; in a way, you become the person’s ears. You may find yourself repeating, explaining and amplifying many things. Whereas the person with the hearing loss may be okay with it, you probably feel exhausted afterwards. Becoming aware of the numerous efforts you make to 'translate' could be an important first step towards their treatment. Realizing the extent of the support you need to give may empower you to take action, on behalf of you both.

Although the hearing loss may be obvious to others, many people who suffer from hearing loss are unaware they have it. Their resistance may be linked to an old-fashioned perception of hearing impairment and hearing aids. However, with today’s technology and designs, hearing aids are so tiny and discreet that they are almost invisible. And, their benefits reach far beyond just recovering lost sound. 

To increase your loved one's awareness of hearing loss, it can be wise to take one step at a time, while being empathetic, supportive and understanding. The more you know, the better you can help, so read the research about hearing loss on our website. Then tell your loved one about the benefits of hearing care, and encourage them have a non-committal hearing test, just as a start. Because, if the test confirms your suspicions, it will give a graphic, medical picture of your loved one's hearing loss. With little room for denial, treatment and progress may begin.

Sometimes empathy and encouragement are not enough. If your loved one's denial is becoming stronger, it may be too much for one person to break through. So, if you feel drained by trying to help on your own, you can ask the rest of the family to support you. They can help to express the impact that your loved one is having on the whole family's daily life.

Family and friends can take part in gently reminding your loved one of their hearing loss every time it is necessary to 'translate', repeat, or amplify something for them. They can thus help 'spread the blame' of the intervention, while helping to point out the ways in which you are being depended upon – which may be more than you realize.