When a person is suffering from hearing loss, they are often the last to notice the problem. Friends and loved ones will realize they are constantly asked to repeat or raise the volume on the TV, but convincing someone they should seek help is a challenge. Hearing loss is stigmatized as a problem of the elderly, despite that being very untrue, it is very difficult for someone to admit they may have a problem they think makes them look “old.” As someone who cares about the person in your life with hearing loss you have to be patient and advocate for him or her without pushing them to wait even longer.
4 ways to be a hearing loss advocate:
- Do your research. It’s easy to say, “You need a hearing aid.” But a lot more goes into buying one than you may know. Learn about types of hearing loss and the options available to help. It’s tough to understand what they are going through if you don’t know the basics of hearing loss.
- Be open to talk about it, but don’t constantly push it. – You’ve armed yourself with research and your first instinct may be to share it all with him or her. That can be overwhelming and scary. They need to accept their hearing loss first before they will be ready for a big discussion. Let them come to you, even if it takes time!
- Be on their side. When they are ready to talk about hearing loss do not be accusatory, talk with them, not at them. Do not point their hearing loss out to other people. If they feel comfortable enough with someone to say I’m having trouble hearing, they will! It is not your place and you may embarrass them.
- Patience is key! You can occasionally suggest they get their hearing checked, particularly at times you find they are making excuses about their hearing loss, like, “The kids always mumble.” If they get defensive, drop the subject and bide your time. You can’t drag them into the office for a hearing test or force them to wear their hearing aids; they need to accept it on their own time!
Your support is important. It can be tough to be a hearing loss advocate, but someone has to do it!