Blog post

How to talk to a loved one about their hearing loss

If you're close to someone with hearing loss, you might find yourself playing the role of a translator or watching your loved one's social life dwindle.

Due to the nature of our services here at OutsideClinic, we visit homes every single day where carers or family members play a pivotal role in the well-being of our customers.

Unlike a broken leg or a bruised elbow, hearing loss can be difficult to recognise, especially since it often develops gradually. Some of the signs that someone close to you is experiencing hearing loss may include:

  • They often comment that others are mumbling or not speaking clearly
  • They habitually turn the TV or radio volume higher than what others find comfortable
  • They struggle to hear in group settings or noisy environments and may seem quieter or less participative
  • They regularly misunderstand what others say and need instructions or information repeated
  • They may find it challenging to understand telephone conversations, so may prefer to text or email
  • They may start speaking louder than usual as they can't accurately gauge their own volume
  • They may show signs of increased concentration or fatigue from trying to listen and follow conversations, as hearing loss often requires more effort to understand speech

Navigating a conversation about hearing loss with a loved one can be challenging. Here are ten tips to navigate these conversations with empathy, understanding, and practicality:

  1. Educate yourself on hearing loss: Learn about how hearing loss typically progresses, especially the loss of higher frequencies, to better understand and explain the condition. Your loved one might not even be aware of the extent of their loss, so it's not always denial; it could be a genuine lack of awareness.
  2. Choose an appropriate time and setting: Pick a time and place where you can talk without stress or distractions. A relaxed setting can set a positive tone for the conversation.
  3. Help them come to their own conclusions: Sometimes we are reluctant to accept what our loved ones are telling us if we don’t like what we hear. We might look for reasons that they are wrong. Sometimes it’s better to focus on facts. This could mean that taking an impartial online hearing test is a better way to help someone to accept they have a problem with their hearing. It takes just a few minutes, is entirely free, and can be completed privately at home.
  4. Offer practical and tangible solutions: Help them see that taking the next step is easy. The first step could be taking an online hearing test. If you’ve already done this with them, then you could propose accompanying them to a hearing specialist.
  5. Show empathy and understanding: Relate to their experience with your own age-related changes (for example having to wear glasses) and communicate with compassion, avoiding making fun or nagging; instead, focus on the positives such as inclusivity in social situations.
  6. Share how it affects you: Express how their hearing loss impacts your relationship. Explain your feelings without placing blame.
  7. Point out behavioural changes: Gently point out instances where their hearing loss seems to impact social interactions or emotional responses. Use specific examples to illustrate your points.
  8. Highlight technological advances: Emphasize the advancements in hearing aid technology. Today's devices are much smaller, smarter, and more discreet than the bulky models of the past, which can be a reassuring revelation for many.
  9. Gather opinions from others: Sometimes, feedback from colleagues or friends outside the immediate family circle can offer a different viewpoint that might resonate more with your loved one.
  10. Address social and psychological effects of untreated hearing loss: Talk about the social and emotional challenges of hearing loss, such as feelings of isolation and being misunderstood, which can impact personal and social connections. Gently mention that untreated hearing loss can be a factor in the development of dementia but be mindful to approach this sensitively to avoid causing alarm.

Remember, approaching this delicate topic requires patience, understanding, and a supportive attitude.

Test your hearing online for free

The test is designed to help you determine whether you should consult a hearing care professional. It takes just a few minutes, is entirely free, and can be completed privately at home. You'll receive your results instantly.

Online hearing test

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