It’s been proven that — left untreated — hearing loss can have a negative effect on our quality of life. Studies have linked untreated hearing loss to decreased cognitive function, higher incidences of hospitalisations, falls and depression, and increased risk of social isolation and dementia. These studies don’t take into account how ignoring hearing loss can also diminish social interactions, and increase our feelings of missing out. Or how it can put our personal safety at risk or make our jobs harder.
Still, many people who have hearing loss don’t do anything about it. Instead, they choose to rely on coping mechanisms like asking others to repeat themselves, turning the TV and radio up really loud, or isolating themselves from activities and events that used to bring them joy. Of course, it’s possible they don’t realise or aren’t convinced they have hearing loss — maybe because they have subconsciously been using these coping methods, or because they haven’t taken a hearing test in a very long time.
What you can do
What are your options if you have a friend or loved one who is struggling with hearing loss but doesn’t want to treat it? Each person is unique and needs to be approached differently, but here are a few things you can do to encourage them to seek hearing help.
Be there for them
Firstly, you have to be patient and supportive. None of us can put ourselves in other’s shoes, but we can listen, advocate, and make them feel confident they can count on us.
Remind them that they aren’t alone
Gently remind them that you and others close to them are impacted too. It could be as simple as frustration at having to repeat things over and over during conversations. Or it could be concerned that they will miss important warning sounds, alarms, news alerts or information. And no one wants to see someone they care about become socially isolated or depressed for something that is treatable, like hearing loss.
Make them aware of the quality-of-life risks associated with hearing loss
Studies have demonstrated the positive effects of treating hearing loss, like those who wore hearing aids reported a significant improvement in their quality of life, or how treating it early is the biggest modifiable risk factor for preventing dementia. Wearing hearing aids is linked to lower risk of falls.
The stigma associated with hearing aids is going away
Today’s hearing aids are so small and discreet, and so many people are wearing things on and in their ears, that wearing hearing aids goes virtually unnoticed. The benefits of hearing better are making the hearing aid stigma disappear more and more each day. It is so worth it!
Recommend they take a hearing test
We know many people might not realise or be convinced they have hearing loss, as few people get their hearing tested regularly. But try to encourage your friend or loved one to visit us for a thorough test and ear examination. It can do no harm!
Offer to go with them on their first appointment
Some people may have anxiety about visiting an audiologist. You can put them at ease by going to the appointment with them. You could also offer to compile helpful information by visiting a few websites about hearing aids and hearing loss. By doing so, you will help your loved one feel more prepared and confident going into their appointment.
Remind them that sooner is better
Finally, don’t be surprised if they are hesitant to seek help for their hearing loss. Be gentle and consistent. On average, hearing aid wearers wait 10 years to seek treatment, so there’s a good chance your loved one is aware of their hearing problem. They just need encouragement and support to treat it. The sooner they get help and treat their hearing loss, the sooner they’ll begin to enjoy all the benefits of hearing their very best!
About Strauss Audiology
Strauss Audiology is a professional audiology business in the northern suburbs of Cape Town, offering expert, effective hearing advice that is tailored to clients’ unique hearing needs. We conduct hearing evaluations, hearing tests and vertigo assessments, and provide a range of solutions to improve and protect clients’ hearing. This includes providing hearing aids to Cape Town clients. With 13 years of experience, and with the qualifications and certifications to deliver leading hearing care, you can trust us to take care of your hearing needs.
Want your hearing tested? Need a solution for hearing loss?