How to Help a Loved One That Is Rapidly Losing Their Hearing Ability
Hearing loss is a devastating condition that can happen to anyone at any age. In some cases, it’s due to old age but injury, medical conditions, and earwax buildup can also cause it. You can lose hearing in one or both ears. When hearing loss happens suddenly, it’s confusing and scary. Your loved one needs all the help they can get. How do you help them?
Understand What They’re Going Through
Hearing loss that happens gradually, presbycusis, is easier to deal with. Sudden loss is confusing. Understand why it’s happening, the issues your loved one has to deal with, and whether they need help. Start by calmly talking to them about what they’re feeling.
Research and understand the options available to help your loved one live a quality life. You’ll know why people lose hearing ability suddenly, where to get help, and if using a hearing aid on one ear is okay. Your loved one may also have questions they need answers to, such as:
- Why is this happening to me?
- Is it reversible?
- Why can I hear better out of one ear?
- Can hearing loss lead to other health conditions?
Assuring them and seeking answers together gives them the confidence to face whatever comes their way.
Know the Emotional Effects
Hearing loss, just like any other condition, comes with conflicting emotions. Your loved one will sometimes be angry, suffer low self-esteem, feel embarrassed, and become depressed. One day, they’re willing to talk and seek answers to their many questions, while in others, even waking up or talking to you is an issue. Be patient and follow the cues. Listen without interruption and offer help when requested, and try to understand the different stages of emotions.
The Denial Stage
After a diagnosis or experiencing hearing loss, some may deny they have a severe issue. They can go on for years without seeking any further medical assistance. Forcing them to take any action during this stage is futile.
Instead, talk to them about the issue. Let them know you’re there to offer help when they need it. When it goes on for many years, denial worsens the problem, leading to other health problems and more accidents.
Frustration will lead to anger, and this can be directed to loved ones or themselves. They’ll be angry that you talk too softly, the music is too loud, or they have no control over the condition. They may also direct their anger toward professionals who they consider incompetent or unwilling to offer them fast help. Anger is a normal and valid part of this journey.
As the situation gets out of control, the next stage is bargaining. They’re not yet emotionally ready to accept the loss but are willing to talk about the conflicting emotions with you and others they trust. It’s not yet time to suggest treatment options but offer a listening ear.
Sadness and helpness may lead to depression. Your loved one is probably unable to carry on with everyday life as they used to or know where to get help. This is a dangerous stage where they need all the help they can get.
Open all communication channels, spend more time with them, and offer activities that take their mind off the condition. For instance, you can plan a mini vacation, try out hobbies they love or just spend weekends together indoors. The more you make them comfortable, the faster they’ll open up and be ready to seek help.
This is the best stage, as your loved one is now willing to do anything possible to change the situation. They’re open to your suggestions but don’t force anything down their throat. Go through the options together, consult different professionals, and help them make the right decisions. You can also read books and magazines together and discuss your findings and the daily challenges.
Learn How to Make Adjustments
You’ll need a lot of patience when talking to your loved one. They will sometimes mishear something or ask you to repeat it several times. You’ll be frustrated, but it’ll only make the situation worse. Understand that this condition is beyond your loved one’s control.
They’re also struggling and need a lot of love and patience. Talk slowly but not loudly. Shouting makes them defensive and may distort words. They’re also more sensitive to loud sounds, so be sure to speak naturally.
Modify Your Environment
With time, lip reading becomes a significant part of your conversations. This is only possible if there’s good lighting. Reverberations and echoes significantly reduce sound quality. It means reducing open spaces or covering them with carpets and curtains.
Learn what makes your communications more effective. Does sitting down together, using gestures, or writing make it easier for them to understand? Facing each other when talking makes it easier for your loved one to read your lips and facial expressions.
Modifying your environment also means getting rid of the noise. Avoid loud music, outside noises, and anything else that will startle your loved one. It also means not raising your voice when talking to other family members or friends. Make others in your household understand your loved one’s needs.
Get rid of background noises when you’re conversing. For instance, talking to them when the washing machine is running will lead to frustration. Wait for an appropriate time or seek another quieter space.
Get Involved in Their Treatment Journey
It’s lonely and challenging to walk the hearing loss treatment journey alone. Your care and presence will mean a lot. Accompany them to the clinics, sit down with them during the appointments, and offer any other help they need. You can assist when their hearing aids require cleaning or repair. If you learn something new during a meeting, go through it together at home. It’s an opportunity to talk and ask any questions you both have.
Watching a loved one deal with the emotions and challenges of hearing loss is devastating. You may not fully understand how best to help them but take one day at a time. Understanding and acquiring proper knowledge makes the journey easier. Be patient, consult experts, and also take care of yourself.