Helping A Loved One Deal With Hearing Loss

Advertisement

photo

ARAcontent photo

Helping a loved one compensate for diminished hearing with repeating yourself or speaking more loudly is not helpful in the long run, experts say.

Does someone you love often ask you to repeat what you’re saying? If so, you may not be doing your loved one a favor by repeating what you just said.

Helping a loved one who isn’t willing to help himself is one of the most painful challenges a family can face. And helping a family member deal with hearing loss is no exception. Sadly, denial — when someone will not acknowledge hearing loss — poses the most significant barrier to the improved well-being of people with unaddressed hearing loss.

Some people associate hearing loss with growing older. But in reality, hearing loss can affect people of all ages, especially in this day of loud music and other loud noises that can damage hearing.

To compensate for hearing loss, people in denial often ask those around them to repeat information at greater volume, unintentionally compelling their loved ones to act as their ears. Yet acting as ears for a loved one with hearing loss in denial can actually do more harm than good.

“Being the ears of your loved one is not an act of love,” writes Dr. Sergei Kochkin, executive director of the Better Hearing Institute (BHI), on his blog. “Acting as ears for loved ones in denial doesn’t help them. Rather, it encourages unconstructive codependent relationships. By compensating for their hearing loss in this manner, you’re actually enabling the hearing loss to have a negative impact on many aspects of your loved one’s quality of life, including job performance.”

Studies link hearing loss to feelings of irritability, negativity and anger, fatigue, tension, stress, depression, social isolation, reduced alertness, impaired memory, poor job performance and earning power, and diminished psychological and overall health, according to the BHI Web site.

“Clearly, the more loving course to take with your family member with hearing loss in denial is to help him or her come to terms with his hearing loss and get treatment to help him hear better,” Kochkin says.

So how can you help your loved one overcome denial? In his book “How Hearing Loss Impacts Relationships: Motivating Your Loved One,” BHI adviser Dr. Richard Carmen offers practical advice on how “hearing helpers” can help their loved ones end their dependent behavior and seek treatment for their hearing loss:

First, understand that although you may think your efforts are loving and helpful, acting as ears for someone you love is actually counter-productive, Carmen says. With you to act as their ears, why would they seek treatment for their hearing loss?

So stop repeating yourself, raising your voice, and acting as messenger. Rather, involve your entire family in your efforts to help your loved one hear independently of your help. A concerted effort can help your loved one finally admit he has a hearing problem.

Carmen suggests family members explain to their loved one with hearing loss — in a calm, loving voice without condemnation — that they will no longer repeat themselves or raise their voices. Instead, when the person with hearing loss asks for information to be repeated at greater volume, you will use words like “Hearing Helper” or some other signal to alert the family member with hearing loss that he is relying on someone else to act as his ears. By doing this, you help your loved one with hearing loss realize how often he has to ask for help. Hopefully, the inescapable realization will finally move him to seek treatment for his hearing loss.

To learn more about hearing loss and effective treatments, visit the Better Hearing Institute’s Web site at www.BetterHearing.org.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.