This holiday season, we’re all looking forward to great conversations, good jokes, and playing catch-up on all we’ve missed since the pandemic began. Or is it really all of us?

Because many of our loved ones with an untreated hearing loss are not looking forward to spending the time with you all because of being unable to join in.

So what can we do to help them feel less lonely? We’ve outlined some ideas below.

Why Would Anyone Not Treat Their Hearing Loss?

For starters, it can help to get our snap judgments out of the way. There are a number of reasons as to why our loved ones will refuse, neglect, or delay seeking hearing care, and many of them revolve around fear rather than wanting to frustrate you.

  • They’re afraid of how much it will cost.
  • They think wearing hearing aids will make them look old and feeble.
  • They don’t know how much damage they could prevent by getting immediate hearing care.
  • They don’t know how great hearing technology has become.

But here’s the thing – we have a lot of helpful advice regarding this commitment, and we know that once a person sees the new hearing aids and tries them out, there’ll be no going back to their old, semi-silent world.

The Consequences Of Untreated Hearing Loss

The long-term effects of not treating a hearing loss can even be fatal. Even considering the reason for the hearing loss in the first place, many a medical issue has been found and treated in time thanks to a regular hearing assessment.

Most hearing loss, however, is due to the aging process, and because hearing loss is so gradual, the person with the loss doesn’t notice their hearing ability slipping away. What they do start to notice, though, is how it seems that people have started making it less easy for them to continue a conversation.

As it becomes more difficult to understand speech, they can start to get embarrassed from having to ask others to repeat themselves or from responding to something that wasn’t said, and thus begin to withdraw from social activities and family gatherings.

The lack of social interaction leads to depression and anxiety, and eventually can lead to cognitive decline and irreparable damage to the auditory system.

Helping A Loved One With A Hearing Loss

Clearly, the best way to help someone with a hearing loss is to encourage them to get hearing help, but what’s the kindest approach?

  • They likely already feel a bit helpless, so they need to feel as if you are coming alongside them rather than telling them what to do. Nagging is usually not helpful because it implies they aren’t already aware of their issue. Instead, ask questions to see how much hearing loss they are aware of.
  • Educate yourself on all the aspects of hearing health. The more you know, the more you can assuage their fears about what’s involved and warn them of future costs due to long-term damage.
  • It can reassure them that they can make it through the process if they know you will support them all the way – from going to the hearing assessment with them to helping determine what to do once the results are discussed to helping with any insurance paperwork.
  • If you know of any of their relatives or friends with a treated hearing loss, ask them to share their stories as a form of encouragement.
  • While it might be difficult for them to accept financial help, perhaps you can make one of your holiday gifts the cost of the hearing assessment or a portion of the hearing package cost.

Accommodating For Someone With A Hearing Loss This Season

It’s not always possible to help someone before the holidays, so you’ll need to come up with a support plan — with the rest of the family or group of friends — until they do get the hearing treatment they need.

  1. Make sure they know you are talking to them by gently touching their arm before speaking, and always face them in full light so they can see your face and lip read.
  2. Include them in your conversations, and be ready to repeat or elaborate if it seems that they didn’t catch what was said.
  3. Keep the noise in the room low, and have them sit with their back to a wall to remove as much background noise as possible.

What Should Someone Do To Treat A Hearing Loss?

If your loved one is aware of their hearing loss and has asked for help, the best first step is to book a hearing assessment and consultation at our Richland, Walla Walla, or Prosser hearing center.

We’ll get the results back immediately, and as soon as we find out what’s causing the loss — which might even be something as simple as earwax buildup — we’ll then discuss hearing treatment options.

So come see us before the holidays! And feel free to request a callback if you have any questions or concerns about the hearing assessment. We’re always happy to help.

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Lori Losey Lovato MA, FAAA, Audiologist

Discover articles and resources written exclusively by Lori Losey Lovato - MA, FAAA. Lori believes in developing close relationships with each and every patient.