Hearing loss doesn’t just affect the person who has it – it also affects family members and friends. Unfortunately most people with hearing loss wait five to seven years before seeking help. If your loved one has a hearing loss that is a long time for you to repeat yourself, translate conversations and/or raise your voice. Your loved one may avoid social events and activities that they used to enjoy because of their hearing difficulties. It is normal to feel frustrated, angry or resentful at times. You will likely not understand why he or she won’t seek help when the problem is obvious.
It is important to acknowledge your feelings but it is equally important to understand your loved one does not have the same experience as you. They simply may not be aware of the extent of the problem because he or she literally does not hear what they are missing. When hearing loss develops gradually over a period of time the hearing impaired person actually forgets what it is like to hear “normally”. Family members with normal hearing are acutely aware of all the missed interactions during the day but the hearing impaired individual is not. They also don’t realize how often you help them compensate for their hearing loss.
Why Helping is Not Helpful
When a family member has hearing loss our natural inclination is to help them. Unfortunately your helpful behavior may actually prevent the hearing impaired individual from realizing the extent of their hearing problem. Speaking loudly or frequently repeating words is counter-productive since it allows the denial of the hearing loss to continue. The most loving thing that you can do to help your family member come to terms with their hearing loss is to encourage them to have their hearing tested. Once the test has been completed the appropriate treatment options can be discussed in detail. By seeking help for their hearing impairment they can improve their hearing and in turn the quality of their life.
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