Richard Carmen, Au.D. – Auricle Ink Publishers, Sedona, Arizona
When we think of helping a loved one with hearing loss who declines use of hearing aids, we often think of how important it is to repeat ourselves, speak clearly, speak louder or interpret what others say if they cannot hear the message. But when we do these good deeds for loved ones with a hearing loss, what we don’t realize is that we’re assisting in their failure to seek help. Such well-intended efforts are counterproductive to the ultimate goal of them receiving hearing aids. Here’s why.
If a loved one with a hearing loss has come to rely on your good hearing, what is the great need for them to wear hearing aids? Your co-dependent efforts must stop in order for them to grasp the magnitude of their problem. Many people with a hearing loss never realize how much communication they actually fail to understand or miss completely because you have become their ears. However, it takes only a short time for them to realize that without your help, they’re in trouble. It is through this realization that one becomes inspired to take positive action to solve their problem. Therefore, as a loving spouse or family member you must create the need for your loved one to seek treatment by no longer repeating messages and being their ears. Your ultimate goal is for them to hear independent of you.
Here are some practical tips for you:
- Stop repeating yourself! Explain that you are on a “Hearing Help Quest”—one that involves your loved one by allowing him or her the opportunity to realize the significance of their hearing loss. Do not stop helping though. All you do is preface what you repeat by saying each time, “Hearing Help!” or some other identifier. In a short amount of time, your loved ones will realize how often you say this. In turn, they will come to realize how often they depend on you. (This suggestion is only for a loved one who resists the idea of getting any help).
- Stop raising your voice (then complaining you’re hoarse). That results in stressing your throat and vocal chords.
- Stop being the messenger by carrying the communication load for the family. Do not tell your loved one “He said” and “She said” when he or she needs to be responsible for getting this information directly from the source.
- Do not engage in conversation from another room as tempting as this is and as convenient as it appears. This sets up your communication process for failure.
- Create a telephone need. This means for you to stop being the interpreter on the telephone. Allow your loved one to struggle in order to recognize how much help he or she needs. We’re looking for motivation (to hear) from your loved one—not you.