Act quick! 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.
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.
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.
Make an effort Try to understand their experience and be supportive. Offering to attend hearing checks with them so that you are both fully informed will make a big difference.
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.
Communicate effectively 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.
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.
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.
Reassure them Hearing loss is nothing to be ashamed of and is merely a part of getting older. In fact, one in six of the UK population suffers from hearing loss – it’s something that happens to everyone and is simply a part of the aging process.
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.
Nick Taylor, audiologist and head of professional advancement at Specsavers Audiologists, recommends that everyone over the age of 55 has a hearing check once a year. For more information or to book a free hearing test please visit: www.specsavers.co.uk/hearing
- Researchers at Tsukuba University Hospital Mito Medical Center in Ibaraki, Japan
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