Tips to help a partner who is hard of hearing
Hearing loss is a surprisingly common condition, affecting more than 11 million people in the UK alone, and that number is set to increase to 15.6 million by 2035*. It can be a daunting prospect for both those affected and their loved ones, especially as many people struggle to admit that they are experiencing hearing loss and may not even realise that they are affected until they have been treated.
However, hearing loss is something that happens to everyone as a natural part of the aging process and is nothing to be ashamed off. Here are some handy tips to help if you think your loved one may be experiencing hearing loss:
The sooner your partner seeks help for their hearing the better their hearing is likely to be for the long-term. If they have been diagnosed with hearing loss suitable for hearing aids, the earlier they start wearing them, the slower the rate of hearing deterioration due to natural wear and tear will be.
Offer to join them at a hearing test. Hearing checks should be incorporated into your usual healthcare routine. If they’re reluctant to go for a hearing test, offer to have one too and make an effort to book regular appointments for both of you. We recommend that everyone over the age of 55 has a hearing check once a year.
Highlight new technology. Digital hearing aids don’t just turn up the volume, they identify the sounds you want to hear and help filter out the rest – perfect for conversations in noisy rooms. They learn and remember your settings for different situations meaning they automatically adjust dependent on the surrounding environment. You can also let your partner know about equipment that can help, like doorbell-alerting devices or loop systems.
First off, ask what they find the most helpful and make an effort to talk a little more slowly and clearly. It also helps to face them so they can lip-read and avoid speaking over other people in their presence.
Get their attention. Before you start speaking to your partner, say their name or make a gesture to ensure you have their full attention from the start. That way they’re less likely to miss words.
Always respect their independence. Rather than doing everything for them, encourage them to do as much as possible for themselves. Allow them to speak for themselves in conversations or when ordering from a menu and answer the phone or doorbell on their own.
Support your partner
Make an effort to be supportive and try to understand their experience. Offering to attend hearing checks with them so that you are both fully informed will make a big difference.
Be patient. Hearing loss can be incredibly frustrating for the person affected, especially during the early stages of diagnosis so it is important not to lose your cool with them. It is a fact of life so do your best to be understanding and rephrase rather than repeat yourself to avoid appearing patronising.
Encourage them to make the most of life. For many, hearing loss can be incredibly isolating. Make sure you plan lots of fun things to do together in environments with little background noise, such as going for long walks.
*Action on Hearing Loss: hearing Matters Report 2015