Wednesday 22 July 2015

Why Caregivers Must Take Hearing Loss Seriously

Guest Post

Hearing loss is an invisible condition. Not everyone can express the fact that they aren’t hearing well, and still others are in denial. That’s why it’s so important for you to be able to identify signs that your loved one might not hear as well as they could and understand that other health conditions could lead to or result from hearing loss.

If untreated hearing loss can be identified, the next step is often persuading your loved one to acknowledge it and take action to correct it. While it may seem difficult, this challenge is not insurmountable. If the subject is approached from the right angle, you can successfully empower your loved one to improve their own overall health and happiness.

Why is recognizing hearing loss so important?

Untreated hearing loss can often hide behind the other difficulties it creates; you might notice a symptom but not understand that hearing loss is the cause. For example, while you may notice that your loved one has become depressed or withdrawn, you might not think to connect these behaviors with the possibility that they can’t hear well or realise that they’re backing out of social situations for this reason.

In fact, untreated hearing loss has been connected with many other health conditions such as depression, dementia and cognitive decline, hypertension and stress, and balance issues. If your loved one is already dealing with these conditions, hearing loss could exacerbate them. What’s more, conditions like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease can also affect a person’s hearing ability.

However, using hearing aids to address hearing loss can help to counteract these effects. Research has shown that those who use hearing aids to combat hearing loss have a better quality of life. And isn’t this the goal of every caregiver – to do everything possible to make their loved ones’ lives better each day?

What are the most common signs of hearing loss?

We can’t always rely on loved ones to tell us, or even recognise, that their hearing ability is less than average. Caregivers should therefore be on the lookout for common signs. It might be time for a hearing test if your loved one:

·       Frequently asks people to repeat what they’ve said
·       Turns the phone or television up too loudly
·       Seems to be withdrawn lately or shies away from social conversation
·       Has more trouble with higher-pitched sounds and voices than lower-pitched ones

How can you persuade someone to address hearing loss?

Once you know that your loved one may have hearing loss, the next step is to urge them to get their hearing evaluated and see if hearing aids are the right solution for their needs. The problem is that trying to force someone to see a hearing health professional can sometimes be like pushing against a brick wall. It depends on the individual, but there are several different ways you can approach the subject in order to gently nudge them and help them decide that they want to get a hearing test.
First, prepare yourself for the most common objections people have to addressing hearing loss. Your loved one might say they’re too young to be lose their hearing, believing that it only happens to “old people.” However, hearing loss affects people of all ages. In fact, 60% of all Americans with hearing loss are in the workforce or educational settings.

Your loved one might also think that hearing aids are cumbersome, embarrassing, or otherwise interruptive to their daily life. But today’s devices integrate seamlessly into any lifestyle. They also come in different styles, some resting so far in the ear canal that they’re virtually invisible.

You can also try persuading your loved ones with facts and numbers. Explain the connection with other health conditions as noted above, and make sure they know that they aren’t alone. According to current statistics, hearing loss affects:

·       20% of adults in the U.S.
·       67% of people over age 75
·       33% of people over age 65
·       14% of people ages 45-64
·       15% of children ages 6-19

You can also explain to them that even if they don’t believe they have hearing loss right now, annual hearing evaluations are just as highly recommended as annual physician checkups and semiannual dental cleanings. It’s important to track your hearing health so that you can notice any changes and take action on them right away.

Finally, it’s often a great idea to go along to your loved one’s hearing evaluation and get your hearing ability tested as well. This could help them feel less nervous about the process, and it will show them how serious you are about being proactive regarding hearing health. After all, annual hearing tests are recommended for everyone, remember?

As a caregiver, you make meaningful sacrifices and face hurdles every day. Hearing loss may be one of those hurdles, but it doesn’t have to be a big one. By knowing the signs, understanding the importance, and taking appropriate action, we can help everyone to live life to the fullest and most rewarding extent possible.

EarQ is a nationwide network of independent hearing healthcare providers that utilises innovative business and marketing practices as well as national public awareness efforts to advocate for excellence in patient care. Through its 1,400 hearing healthcare provider locations nationwide, EarQ helps provide greater access to quality hearing healthcare services and products.

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