Hearing loss can occur with age in a process known as presbycusis, caused by changes in the ear. Furthermore, that’s not even mentioning other auditory issues that can accompany hearing loss, such as tinnitus. As a loved one, how can you help the people around you cope with the problem of hearing loss?
What Problems Does Presbycusis Cause?
Physical changes can cause issues in a patient’s day-to-day life, leading to them running into challenges daily. For example, they may have trouble hearing alarms or telephones ringing, which can cause inconveniences such as unintentional lateness. Such difficulties in hearing get exacerbated further when in a crowded space as it becomes difficult for them to find a sound’s source. However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Patients with Presbycusis can find difficulties with understanding speech, making it a giant obstacle obstructing proper communication with them.
Emotional and Social Implications of Hearing Loss
Psychological effects can occur in older adults with hearing loss, and part of helping your loved one cope with their condition is understanding the warning signs of such effects. By looking out for the signs of concern with your loved one’s psychological state, you can understand how to be a more supportive family member to them and how to resolve their problems before they become too serious.
Patients experiencing hearing loss may also experience feelings of shame and inadequacy due to their condition, as the various challenges they experience in daily life can make them feel self-conscious about their deficiencies. Hearing loss can have the effect of causing difficulties with thinking and concentrating, making focusing an incredibly uphill task for them. This is especially true for individuals struggling with conditions such as Tinnitus, due to the ringing and hissing sounds constantly serving as a distraction to their ears.
These feelings have been translated into anxieties when interacting with others, as they start to develop a fear of losing relationships with their loved ones because they need more care and accommodation at times. The lack of self-worth that can occur in those with hearing loss can lead to social withdrawal and isolation. Hence, if your loved one starts to act in an aloof or withdrawn manner, it may be a warning sign that you need to step up to support them emotionally with their condition.
How to Support Your Loved One with Hearing Loss
Respect your loved one’s attempts at initiating communication or remaining engaged, such as asking you to repeat yourself mid-conversation. Rather than brushing off their attempts to understand your speech with a “nevermind”, be mentally prepared to repeat yourself and enunciate clearly. You could also attempt to be more considerate to your loved one with hearing loss through subtle behaviors such as:
- Minimizing background noise when possible.
- Using hand signs to supplement your speech.
- Speaking slower than you usually might.
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