Five hints your loved one has hearing loss
The holidays may bring the family together, but even if you’re once again in the same room, hearing loss can keep you apart. Many family members live far away from each other, meaning they often only see each other during the Christmas season and other special occasions. These family members can often be the first to notice when a hearing loss is present in one of their loved ones, because minute changes are sometimes difficult to detect by the people who see that family member regularly. Here are a few signs your loved one may have hearing loss.
“What?” The most obvious sign something is amiss is if you often have to repeat yourself to your family member before he or she hears you correctly. Your loved one might not notice his or her hearing is deteriorating initially, and even after they do, it might take some convincing to get them to admit it to themselves. Gently pointing out to them how often they miss what you said might help them realize they should pay a visit to a hearing health practitioner.
When they do hear you, they might hear you incorrectly. As a result, the conversation might be misconstrued to mean something entirely different to them. A disconnect will slowly develop between them and those around them as you and others pick and choose when to correct them. Repeating yourself can be tiring (and annoying) so you could find yourself only correcting them part of the time.
Understandably, your family member will be confused as to why what they’re hearing is so different from what is actually being said. Confusion can only amplify the other symptoms of hearing loss. If you notice your family member disoriented, lost in the conversation or simply lost in thought, it could be related to a problem with their hearing. If they are exhibiting the two previous symptoms of hearing loss, try sitting them down to have a conversation with them about what they’re experiencing. If they don’t know they have hearing loss themselves, a simple talk could bring to light many of their troubles and help them understand what the problem is.
Eventually, your family member will grow distant as the stress and embarrassment of hearing loss forces them to retreat into themselves. While you and the rest of the family sip eggnog and laugh around the fire, you might notice them sitting on the outskirts, keeping to themselves, perhaps smiling occasionally to pretend like they caught the punchline to the latest joke someone told. Remember that even if hearing loss makes it difficult to communicate with them, it’s not worse than having hearing loss and being ignored.
Hearing loss takes a mental, emotional and physical toll on the person experiencing it. You might notice your family member becoming unusually tired, particularly toward the end of the day, after the mental strain to keep up begins to wear them down. They might also become snappy and irritable, since hearing loss takes much more patience on their part than it does on yours.
If you’re home for the holidays, take note if any of your loved ones are showing signs of hearing loss. While hearing loss is a normal part of the aging process, your parents and grandparents are not the only people susceptible. Remember that hearing loss is a common problem with younger people as well, so pay attention if your siblings and cousins are having trouble hearing. Most importantly, keep an eye out for any of these symptoms in yourself. You’re just as much at risk of being the family member in need of a hearing check.