As we get into the holiday season, increased time spent with family and loved ones makes any communication difficulties more apparent. As the majority of adults will experience some level of hearing loss as they age, it is important to recognize the signs of hearing loss and have a plan to deal with the problem. Noticeable signs of hearing loss include:
- Listening to the television or radio at high volume.
- Continually asking people to repeat themselves.
- Displaying difficulty understanding women and children when they speak.
- Contributing inappropriately to the conversation or answering questions incorrectly.
- Displaying difficulty hearing in noisy environments, such as restaurants or shopping malls.
While not as common, children can experience hearing loss as well. Children exhibit similar symptoms including:
- Tilting their head to one side when listening.
- Displaying balance issues, especially when trying to sit or stand.
- Failing to be startled by, or turn toward, loud noise.
- Failing to respond when their name is called.
- Exhibiting slow, delayed, or limited speech.
- Watching your lips when you speak.
We get calls from concerned loved ones who plan to stage a “family intervention” to confront usually their parents about their hearing problem. We don’t usually recommend this method. Hearing loss is a very personal loss often tied to feelings of embarrassment, frustration, and isolation. It is usually more effective to treat this issue in a one-on-one situation. It is sometimes valuable to let the person know that you are concerned with their health, as untreated hearing loss has been linked to increased dementia, heart health, diabetes and even migraines. There is also a safety issue involved, as hearing loss makes it difficult to hear fire alarms, trains, telephones, and other warnings.
They may also be comforted to know that they are not alone. According to the National Institute for Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), one of every three Americans over the age of 65 has some degree of hearing loss. They may also want to know that there are many options available for treatment– invisible technology such as Lyric are great for those who are self-conscious about anyone knowing they are wearing hearing aids. Other options are available here. There are also options available to help with certain listening situations, such as the Caption Call telephone available in our office.
Understand that studies show that it takes an average of 7 years from the time someone first starts noticing a hearing loss. Be patient and supportive and eventually they will seek help. In the meanwhile, there are some communication strategies that can help– read about them here. If you have any questions or want to schedule an appointment at our practice with our Best of State audiologists, call us at 801-770-0801.