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A new hearing loss can be a frightening and disorienting discovery, and denial is a common refuge for those who find themselves experiencing it. It takes an average of seven years for a person to seek treatment for their hearing loss- an unfortunate statistic that we can only hope will change in the coming years. The impulse to pretend there’s nothing wrong can be strong, but all the research on hearing loss indicates that earlier treatment is the best course of action with the best health outcomes. In fact, in cases of age-related hearing loss, some effects of hearing loss like fatigue, loneliness and depression are frequently mistaken for separate problems associated with “getting old,” while they’re actually caused by the hearing loss itself.
If your loved one is clearly suffering from hearing loss but is making excuses for refusing treatment, hopefully you can help them see how much better off they (and you) could be if they get their hearing tested and get hearing aids. Here are a few of the excuses we commonly hear, and what you might say in response.
“I Can Hear as Good as Ever”
It’s all too common: you know they can’t hear as well as they used to, but they refuse to admit there’s anything wrong. It may be that they’re getting by with their hearing loss because you and/or other caregivers are acting like “human hearing aids,” repeating things for them, helping them interpret what others are saying, and otherwise picking up the slack for their inability to hear. While you don’t want to leave them to suffer alone, they need to realize that you can’t always be their ears for them. Try and help them see how their hearing loss is affecting you, without blaming, enough to get them to a hearing test. An audiologist is an objective third party who will show them a graph of their hearing ability alongside what is considered normal hearing, and they’ll be able to see definitively just how bad their hearing has gotten.
“It’s Not Bad Enough Yet For Hearing Aids”
If it’s bad enough that it’s noticeable, they can benefit from hearing aids. Letting hearing loss go untreated comes with a host of negative outcomes. The longer they go without hearing effectively, the auditory cortex in the brain starts to atrophy, actually decreasing their ability to comprehend speech once they do get hearing aids. While this can be overcome with training sessions for new hearing aid wearers, it’s much better for them to start wearing hearing aids before they “forget” how to listen. If hearing is difficult, now is the time to get hearing aids.
“I’m Not Old”
Because we associate hearing loss with old age, many people are resistant to getting hearing aids because they consider them a sign that they are “elderly.” In fact, people are living longer than ever before in history, while age-related hearing loss begins statistically around age 45 (though it might not be problematic for 10-20 years). Untreated hearing loss carries significant consequences: it makes us feel tired, it tends to strain our relationships with those closest to us, and leads to depression and social isolation. Wearing hearing aids doesn’t make us old, but untreated hearing loss tends to accelerate the aging process, even leading to earlier onset of cognitive decline and dementia.
Hearing aids keep us out in the world. They make us more confident and independent, and tend to make us more optimistic even about the world in general. These sound like traits more associated with young people than old people, wouldn’t you say?
“I Tried Them and I Don’t Like Them”
Maybe they tried some of the cheap mail-order hearing aids marketed on television, or maybe they’re remembering their parents’ or grandparents’ hearing aids. Modern hearing aids are technological marvels containing tiny computers that not only provide the exact specifications for their specific hearing loss, but they can provide masking sounds to alleviate tinnitus, integrate with Bluetooth and other technologies, reduce background noise and focus on speech that’s coming from in front of their head. Not only that, but they’re smaller than hearing aids have ever been: with many models, you would have to look inside the ear canal to see them at all. The Better Hearing Institute, a non-profit group, found that 91% of people who got hearing aids in the last year were satisfied with them.
Don’t wait until hearing loss has gotten “too bad”! Contact us today and see how much better life can be with hearing loss treatment!