Helping a Loved One Experiencing Hearing Loss

The impact of hearing loss of family members and other loved ones is significant. Difficulties understanding and hearing one another can strain relationships, whether it’s your partner, parent or friend. If you suspect your loved one is experiencing hearing loss, it’s essential to discuss the matter with them and encourage them to seek treatment.

 

Whether it’s your partner, your parent or a friend, suspecting hearing loss can be challenging.

How Do I Know if My Loved One Has Hearing Loss?

If your loved one is experiencing hearing loss, you may notice changes in behaviour during social situations. For example, your loved one may:

  • Have difficulty keeping up with conversations
  • Often ask for clarification or for people to repeat themselves
  • Ask you to speak up
  • Keep the TV and/or radio up much louder than normal
  • Complain about ringing in their ears
  • Seem disengaged in conversations
  • Often miss phone calls
  • Not hear certain tones such as a smoke detector, microwave or mobile phone ringing.

You may also notice changes in your loved one’s emotional state. For example, they may seem stressed while in group environments, are embarrassed to meet new people, or tend to isolate themselves.

What can I do about it?

If you’ve noticed your loved one suffering from some of the symptoms of hearing loss listed above, it’s time discuss the options of hearing aids with them.

Approaching your loved one with love and kindness on the topic of hearing is incredibly important. There is a major stigma attached to hearing loss, however recognising there is a problem is the first step to a solution.

You can tell them that hearing loss is very common.

Hearing loss affect 3.6 millions Australian, with 90% of those aged over 50 years old.

In addition, here are some suggestions we often give to our clients and their loved ones:

 

  • Speak openly but sensitively about the issue
  • Offer your support
  • Suggest they take our online hearing quiz
  • Recommend they arrange a free hearing test with Health & Hearing. Phone 07 3152 4056
  • Accompany them to the hearing test so that you can understand the degree of the problem and be there to support them.

Want to know more about what happens in a consultation?

 

View our Clinical Process Video

Want to know more about what happens in a consultation?

 

View our Clinical Process Video

The Effects of Untreated Hearing Loss

Click each tab below to learn more information on each effect of untreated hearing loss.

Symptoms of social isolation tend to appear long before a person is diagnosed with hearing loss. This is because hearing loss occurs gradually, and the person may not be aware of what is happening. One of the first signs of hearing loss is an individual withdrawing from friends, family and the community. This is one of the most notable effects of hearing loss on spouses.

Due to difficulty communicating with others, a person with hearing loss often relies more heavily on visual cues and can struggle to keep up and give context to conversations. This ongoing difficulty can lead to stress, anxiety and fatigue. Friends and family may also not understand why their loved one has distanced themselves.

Social isolation and anxiety from hearing loss can eventually lead to depression. When someone needs to work hard to understand others, they can lose interest in activities they once enjoyed. They may feel misunderstood by their loved ones and embarrassed about their hearing loss. While some people with hearing difficulties are proactive in finding ways to communicate, others simply become withdrawn.

In 2007, Australian Hearing released a national telephone survey conducted by Newspoll with 2,401 adults who suffered from hearing impairment. The survey found 60% of Australians with hearing loss displayed symptoms associated with depression. Three of the main symptoms were highlighted including increased irritability and frustration (52%), difficulty sleeping 22%, and a loss of interest in most activities (18%).

A study conducted by John Hopkins Medical Institution has shown one is more likely to experience falls and sensations of being off-balance if they have hearing loss. In fact, the study revealed a three-fold increase in fall incidents in people with mild hearing loss. The incident rate increased with every 10 decibels of hearing loss.

Although hearing loss alone doesn’t cause balance issues, there are a few situations in which balance can be adversely affected by hearing loss or changes within the inner ear. Your eyes and ears work together to organise the environment around you. Together, these senses judge the distance between sight and sound. Hearing loss impacts this spatial awareness which in turn leads to poor balance.

While we don’t fully understand the link between hearing loss and dementia, there does appear to be one. People with severe hearing loss may be five times more likely to develop dementia according to research by Professor Frank Lin and colleagues from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. This may be because of how hearing loss leads to social isolation, feelings of loneliness, depression and a loss of independence, which can all increase the risk of developing dementia.

Alternatively, researchers speculate that people with hearing loss experience a cognitive overload. In other words, hearing loss makes the brain work harder, placing an additional load on the mental resources of a vulnerable brain that must work harder to decode and process sounds. This additional load reduces available resources for memory, understanding speech and other cognitive functions, potentially leading to changes in the brain.

To gain insights on your hearing you can try our online hearing test or why not take the straight route and make an appointment right now, click the button below and we will meet very soon.