The average person waits seven to ten years to seek help for their hearing loss. This can be frustrating for family members and loved ones, who often have to deal with uncomfortably loud TVs and repeating themselves frequently. But more importantly, encouraging your loved one to seek treatment for their hearing loss can prevent social withdrawal, depression and even cognitive decline.
Below are some of the main reasons people choose not to seek help for their hearing loss and ways to encourage them.
“I don’t have a hearing problem. My family just mumbles.”
Even for people with healthy hearing, it’s normal to miss words here and there when others are talking, especially during meals when people’s mouths are full or in the car when speakers don’t face each other and there is road noise present. But it’s unlikely for one’s whole family to mumble all the time.
But this is a common conception that people with hearing loss have, mostly because we think of hearing loss incorrectly. In the early stages, speech does not sound quieter; it sounds distorted. So while your loved one can hear the volume of your voice just fine, they will begin to miss more and more words, phrases and full sentences. This can cause miscommunication and hurt feelings.
When talking to your loved one about hearing loss, tell them about how these miscommunications are harmful for your relationship with them.
“Hearing aids are for old people.”
Hearing loss can occur at any age, and people of all ages are fit for hearing aids every day.
In addition, today’s hearing devices are more technology-packed than ever before, and are outfitted with truly incredible features.
If you have a smartphone, hearing aids with Bluetooth compatibility can stream calls and media directly to your ears, essentially acting as a tiny wireless headset. Higher-tier models can also remember what settings you prefer in different environments and automatically reprogram themselves to suit your needs.
Hearing aids are also much more discreet than ever before. Some models are even completely invisible!
If your loved one is concerned about wearing hearing aids, let them know about the cool features of today’s devices.
“I just have mild hearing loss; I don’t need to be treated.”
Studies show that even mild hearing loss can have long-term impacts. In a Johns Hopkins study that tracked over 600 adults for 12 years, researchers found that mild untreated hearing loss doubled the risk of dementia.
Researchers hypothesize that this connection is due to lack of social interaction and stimulation since many people with hearing loss become socially withdrawn. Another theory is that, when you cannot hear well, your brain focuses more energy on listening and understanding than on cognition and memory.