People living in denial of their hearing loss can create difficult situations for themselves and also a range of issues for those around them.
If you suspect that your significant other may have hearing loss and they’ve chosen to stubbornly suffer in silence, then raising the topic with them can often prove to be a little bit of a challenge. You don’t want to injure their pride, or embarrass yourself by being wrong.
Some people dealing with hearing loss attempt to keep the issue to themselves, either out of a sense of pride because they don’t want to admit their hearing may be failing, or fear because they may be unsure or unaware of what actions to take.
But as uncomfortable as it may be to have to bring it up, it’s also a necessary conversation to have. Naturally, you should be sensitive when approaching the topic, but the sooner you get the issue out in the open, the better it will be for you both. The longer you leave the problem unaddressed, the greater the chance that your relationship will end up in a crisis state due to frustration and anxiety as you both attempt to adjust to an unworkable situation.
It’s important for you both to be able to speak freely about the potential issue before it escalates to a breaking point. Usually a person trying to hide or deny their hearing loss will develop certain coping strategies, ranging from vague false answers as they pretend to have heard what you said, to turning up the volume of electronic devices and raising their voice. Communicating with someone who refuses to acknowledge that they have a loss of hearing can be frustrating and exhausting, leaving the other person physically and emotionally drained.
Quite often people in denial will also withdraw into themselves to avoid being seen as a burden on others. This approach can lead to isolation and cause long lasting psychological damage.
What can you do?
Here are some tips on how to talk to a loved one that may be in denial of their hearing loss.
If you notice they often don’t respond when spoken to, or they continually ask you to repeat yourself and they’ve been speaking louder, then it may be a good time to broach the subject.
Make it about you, not them.
When raising the subject of your loved one’s potential hearing loss, use words like “I” and “me” so they can understand the effect their refusal to seek treatment is having on you. Say things like “I find it very tiring always having to repeat myself”. It might seem a tad harsh, but it highlights the impact their denial is having without provoking them into a defensive state.
Keep it positive and light.
Talk about the benefits of clear hearing, and the positive effects of getting hearing aids. Ensure that when you use examples of other cases to make your point, keep the stories light.
Show your respect for them.
Persistence is important when you’re offering your help, especially when that help stands the chance of being rebuffed. However the key is to remain respectful of their needs and wants.
It may be a difficult situation for them to be confronted on the issue, so try to stay supportive at all times.
With hearing loss, every person’s journey from denial to acceptance is different. So it’s important to keep reminding your loved one they’re not alone. Of course they have you, but they also have a community of others who have been through it before, and there is a wealth of resources available to them to help them on their hearing path.
Also, remind them that they should consult an audiologist for hearing testing and to see what next steps they can take.