None of us like getting older, or some of the things associated with it. I have been a Hearing Aid Dispenser for 26 years and have dealt with thousands of people who don’t think they need a hearing aid because they “don’t have a problem” – except that the members of their family can tell that they are not hearing as well as they used to.
My Mum was the same. She was adamant that her hearing was perfect, and I was “being ridiculous” suggesting in 1994 that she needed to do something about it. You’ll read later on in this blog about what happened with her.
What can affect our hearing?
Other things can affect our hearing, but ageing is the most common cause. As I said at the start, getting older is not something we accept very easily. Our minds and bodies slowly decline over the years, and it can lead some individuals to become quite depressed about it. I’ve seen that too.
US and UK research has shown the most significant percentage of individuals with hearing loss belong to those aged 60+, and incredibly, men are nearly twice as likely to experience hearing loss between the ages of 20 to 69!
It is therefore important to understand that, while you may think your loved one would benefit from hearing aids, they may not realise it yet. More frustratingly for family, if they do know they have a problem, I’ve found it very common that the individual will not even want to admit it.
It can be both frustrating and upsetting for them to discover their hearing is in decline, but they very often refuse to acknowledge or accept it.
My Mum refused to accept it because she said “I’m not old enough to need hearing aids! My Dad didn’t have a hearing aid until he was in his 80’s so I’m not having one! I can hear everything I need to hear!”. She certainly wasn’t – she was missing so much on TV, in family gatherings and so on.
Some common indications that Hearing Aids are needed
If your family has a history of hearing loss, or have worked in specific industries, then they may be predisposed to hearing loss. If you are not sure, here are some common signs that indicate a hearing aid would improve your loved one’s quality of life:
- Regularly asking “What did they say?”
- The level they have the radio or TV on is too loud for everyone else.
- Not realising they’ve not heard the doorbell, knocking at the door, or the telephone ringing.
- Often hearing noises or ringing in their ears (tinnitus).
- Complaining about being left out, or missing conversation when in groups of people.
- Connected with the previous one, they begin to withdraw from social situations due to worry or being embarrassed about misunderstanding or missing conversations.
- Getting frustrated, annoyed or embarrassed because they often respond incorrectly to questions – made worse if others laugh. So many times over the years, people have said to me “I feel daft because I’m deaf – it’s embarrassing”. That is so sad – if it’s age-related, unfortunately, we can’t stop ourselves growing older! I won’t state the obvious there because it’s not necessary.
- Certain medications are considered to be “ototoxic” (toxic to the ears) such as those used to treat heart disease or cancer.
What can a family do to help?
The family have to tread very carefully. Simply suggesting they get a hearing aid can come across as insensitive at best, and completely insulting at worst. This is particularly true if you have repeatedly tried to get them, unsuccessfully, to consider hearing aids because of your growing frustration at their daily situation – like I was with my Mum in the 1990s when she was nearly 60 years old.
Instead, and this certainly helps, why not begin by putting yourself in their shoes – so you can approach the subject appropriately?
Speak calmly to them
I’m sure most of us have lost the ability to do something specific as we get older – riding a bicycle, mowing the lawn, cleaning the car, driving a car etc. These things can be devastating, so it’s important to remember your loved one did not ask to lose their hearing. In so many appointments I’ve done over the years, friends and family members can get so frustrated, and even angry when they have to repeat themselves so often. Then the guilt can compound that frustration and cause real problems in the family.
It’s very important that you speak with them from an understanding position because you will be more likely to be heard (excuse the pun). They will be more receptive to what you are saying. We regularly judge ourselves for our shortcomings, so making sure they understand that you are genuinely concerned, and wanting to improve their quality of life, will help them feel more comfortable when discussing it – it’s all done with love and care for them from the outset after all isn’t it?
Three suggestions to help you and your loved one
Every one of us is unique. Your relative or friend might be the sensitive type, the funny type, or the serious type.
Bear this in mind before approaching them about their hearing. Sometimes humour can be added into the conversation to lighten the mood, but sometimes facts and figures would be more appropriate.
- Suggest them having a FREE Hearing Test: There are many different reasons for hearing loss, and sometimes a hearing aid is not the solution. That’s why seeing an audiologist from Hear4U is the better suggestion because we can determine what, if any, underlying reasons there may be contributing to the hearing loss. If we suggest that a hearing aid is the best option for them, they may be more inclined to listen to an audiologist and take our professional advice. We can demonstrate the difference that hearing aids can make immediately if they wish – we work at their speed, not ours. You can click on our home page and book an appointment.
- Show Them What Hearing Aids Look Like
There are several different types of hearing aids that are much different from the large, clunky ones of the past. Technology has significantly changed the way we hear, and often hearing aids can be worn without being visible to others. Your loved one might be among the many who find hearing aids to be undesirable. Studies have shown that society’s forces significantly influenced the choice to be tested for hearing loss and to wear hearing aids. If you visit our BLOG section from the homepage, you will find blogs on hearing loss, types of hearing aids, and explanations of different hearing losses.
- Can you offer to help?
Research indicates that only around 20 per cent of adults with hearing loss actively do something and use hearing aids. A significant contributing factor to this statistic is financial. You may be in a position to offer to assist them with the cost – you remove one obstacle from stopping them from getting help. Hear4U offer interest-free schemes over 10 or 12 months to help spread the cost too. We also put our hearing aid price list on this website – we have nothing to hide.
There are other, additional reasons why individuals might refuse to seek help with their hearing – including:
- Denial that there’s a problem
- Other more important things to spend their money on
- Not being able to get to a hearing centre due to lack of transport (Hear4U do home visits)
- Fear of being perceived as a “failure” or “weak” in their lives by admitting hearing loss
- Fear of doctors, surgeries or medical practices (our centres are all very inviting and
decorated to make you feel comfortable)
- Fear of being ridiculed
However, each of these reasons can be resolved with understanding and patience. When we remove these barriers by offering to help in any way we can, they won’t have any reason to fear being checked by one of the Hear4U audiologists.
Think back to those times when you and your loved one laughed and talked together. It would be fantastic to get back to those days again, wouldn’t it? It can happen with the right support, diagnosis, and treatment.
The recent lockdown caused by Coronavirus has left loads of people feeling very shut off and isolated.
Perhaps they’ve now also realised just what their hearing is like. They’ve missed seeing family, and once you can all meet again, they may well find that their hearing loss is causing a problem they now know they can do something about.
It took TEN long years for my family and myself (as a hearing aid dispenser) to finally convince my Mum to get hearing aids. I had proved she had a hearing loss right from when I qualified in 1994 – I demonstrated some hearing aids on her, proving that she can hear better with them! After she’d had them only a few weeks, she admitted to me that “I should’ve done this years ago!” She will openly tell you that she wouldn’t be without them now, because she can’t hear very well at all without them in!
Hear4U would be happy to have a no-obligation phone call with you or your loved one to answer any questions, offer our expertise, and make some recommendations.
Why not contact us today by phone, email or live chat, and we will be there for you and your family – to help improve the quality of their life AND yours?