Around one in six adults in Australia have mild or greater hearing loss due to all possible causes.
Although hearing loss is sometimes preventable, it can happen due to old age and health conditions. If your parents are having trouble hearing for any reason, it may be difficult to communicate with them.
Read our guide to learn about five ways you can care for your parents with hearing problems.
1. Hold Eye Contact and Check Lighting
If your parents have hearing problems, likely, they communicate visually. To ensure your parents know that you are listening to them, face them and don't break eye contact.
Communicating this way can help your parents see facial expressions and the interaction overall will feel more natural. Since those with hearing problems communicate with sight, check that the lighting is right and try to stay away from background noise.
Don't stand in front of a source of light that could create a shadow on your face. Without being able to see your face, your parents could have a harder time trying to understand what you are expressing.
If your parents are using a hearing aid because they can't hear properly, avoid covering your face when speaking to them.
2. Speak Clearly and Repeat Yourself
Your parents may be learning to read lips more often because they are hard of hearing. However, this is a skill that takes time to master. To help them out, make sure you don't speak too fast.
A jumble of words, dragged out sentences, mumbles, or shouts are not helpful to someone with hearing problems. Learn to speak more steadily. When you are less wordy, your meaning won't get twisted.
An interactive conversation should be the goal between you and your parents. To allow this to happen, keep your sentences short and make your parents feel comfortable.
You may be a fast speaker in general and just can't help yourself. You may need to repeat yourself more often around your parents if this is the case. Try not to get frustrated if there is a lack of understanding.
Caring for parents with hearing problems takes patience. You should repeat sentences or words at a normal pace. Sometimes this won't help and you may have to rephrase your words completely.
3. Don't Shout!
Even when speaking to someone who can't hear properly, there is no need to shout. You may have to speak louder than normal, but make it as natural as possible.
4. Don't Give Up
It is common to feel frustrated when trying to communicate with parents who are hard of hearing. The best thing you can do for them during this time is to stay respectful and continue trying.
Most with hearing loss struggle to understand others the first time around. When you give up on trying, you're making your parents feel like they don't matter.
5. Try Hearing Aids
If your parents don't already have hearing aids, purchasing and using them can be especially useful. It may take some convincing as there is a stigma around hearing aids being for elders. Hearing aids can actually make your parents feel more comfortable.
Hearing aids aren't just used by the elder community. Hearing loss is caused by many things and can happen to anyone at any age. In fact, one of the more common causes of hearing loss is loud noise.
Another reason people suffer from hearing loss is excess ear wax or build-up. If treatments to soften ear wax are not beneficial, some people opt for hearing aids instead.
If the eardrum is punctured it can also cause hearing loss. This issue occurs when the eardrum is infected, pressurized, or objects are stuck inside the ear.
There are health conditions that can cause hearing loss in older individuals. The conditions that contribute to hearing loss include high blood pressure, diabetes, brain injuries, heart conditions, or a tumour.
Less commonly known, heredity can cause hearing loss and it does not always happen at birth. Some forms of hearing loss due to heredity show up later in life.
Speaking with your parents about hearing aids can make their lives and yours much easier. Communicating with them will feel normal once again. Scheduling a hearing test is the first step to correcting the problem.
Types of Hearing Problems
The types of hearing problems and degrees of hearing loss range from mild to profound. The three main types of hearing loss include sensorineural, conductive, and mixed.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
This is the most common type of hearing loss that happens when inner ear nerves are damaged. The hair cells inside the ear are also damaged.
This condition can happen due to noise damage, age, or something entirely different. Sensorineural hearing loss cannot be corrected through surgical treatment, but hearing aids can help.
Conductive Hearing Loss
Obstructions in the outer or middle ear can cause conductive hearing loss. This can be due to tumours, fluid, earwax, or ear formation. This can be treated surgically or with medications to help sounds get to the inner ear.
Mixed Hearing Loss
Mixed hearing loss is a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. It is best to see a doctor to figure out which condition your parents have before deciding how to treat it.
Turn Hearing Problems Into Solutions
No matter the cause of your parents hearing problems, extra care may be necessary. By considering these steps, you can help your parents communicate better. If hearing loss is becoming a big issue, hearing aids are a great option.
At County Hearing Care, we turn hearing problems into solutions. Book an appointment with us now to talk about you or your loved ones hearing.