You’ve been worried about someone in your family for months now. You regularly have to speak up and repeat yourself in conversations—and when you do, your loved one becomes annoyed at you for yelling. You know that your family member has hearing loss, and you’re positive that she knows it, too. So why can’t she just accept it and get the hearing device she needs?
Study Shows That Seniors Are Likely to Deny Suffering From Hearing Loss
Unfortunately, hearing loss denial is a common problem among seniors, and can be a major barrier to getting proper treatment. In a hearing loss survey of over 300 participants, only half of the seniors with hearing loss symptoms would actually admit that they have the condition—and of these seniors, most denied that the condition is something that should be treated.
The survey explored a number of reasons seniors may avoid seeking treatment, including:
- Underestimating the seriousness of hearing loss. Even when seniors admitted to experiencing hearing loss, they did not think the condition was serious enough to correct. Some insisted that it was simply part of aging, others said it was not worth treating an ailment that wasn’t life-threatening. Many thought that their hearing was bad, but not bad enough to get a hearing aid.
- Skipping hearing tests. Hearing testing is an optional screening procedure, much like a colonoscopy—and since it is not required, it is seldom scheduled. Fourteen percent of participants said that they had had only one or two hearing tests in their lives, and 16 percent said that they had never had a hearing test.
- Mistrust of hearing aids. When asked about hearing aids, many seniors responded with opposition and doubt. Some did not think a hearing aid would be helpful, while others admitted that they did not want to seem old or weak by wearing a hearing device.
How Can I Help a Family Member in Denial?
Many people with hearing loss wait years to seek treatment, in some cases living with their symptoms for a decade or more. With each year that passes, it becomes more and more difficult to convince a loved one to correct the condition. Not only have seniors put more and more coping mechanisms in place as time goes by, but they have likely suffered secondary effects such as depression, isolation, or cognitive decline.
It’s not impossible to help a loved one who is suffering from hearing loss, but there are ways you can significantly help the case for treatment. Here are a few tips to consider before approaching your loved one:
- Consider what factors are holding your loved one back. Most seniors will cite more than one reason for avoiding treatment. Some are psychological, others financial, and many emotional, and you must be ready to address them all. Gather information beforehand on getting insurance to pay for hearing aids and testing, and have some numbers up front. If your loved one doesn’t like driving, be ready with transportation options.
- Plan your conversation carefully. Your approach is as important as the information you provide. Badgering doesn’t help, and can put your loved one in a defensive position (blaming others for “mumbling,” etc). It is much more productive to ask her to give treatment a try, on her own terms, and tell her she can stop if she doesn’t like it.
- Switch the perspective. Most of the seniors in the study admitted avoiding talking to people with hearing loss, and responding positively to others who wore hearing devices. Your loved one may have friends in the same age group, both with and without hearing aids. Use one of these friends as an example. Would your loved one be less likely to talk to a friend if she needed to shout all the time? Does she see others who have hearing aids as somehow weak or feeble? If not, why does she see herself that way?
- Offer tech support. Some people are afraid of having one more electronic device that they have to master. Stay with your loved one in the early days of her new device, especially if she seems unhappy with it. Adjust the settings to her liking, and show her how to do it herself, making sure she knows that you’re available to troubleshoot. Most people adapt quickly once they see the benefits of the right device.
The good news is that the study found that hearing aid users were more likely to participate in social activities, and reported a better quality of life than before they had a device. We make it easy for patients to take the first step toward hearing restoration with a one-on-one hearing exam. Call us at 888-262-2613 to set up an appointment with one of our hearing care professionals today!