“I’ve noticed that my husband’s hearing has gradually deteriorated over the past couple years. I’m thinking I should talk to him about it before it gets a lot worse. Is this the right time, and can you guide my discussion?”
Dr. Meyer’s Answer:
Talking to a loved one about his or her hearing loss is one of the most difficult conversations a person can have! You indicated that your husband’s hearing loss has occurred gradually. This is very common, and it often causes people to be unaware of the problem or to minimize its impact. The fact that you (and probably others) have noticed his hearing loss means it’s time to do something about it. Following are five suggested steps to help you through the process.
Step 1: Recognize the personal health consequences
People often don’t realize how much their hearing loss has affected them, emotionally, mentally and physically. In my experience as an audiologist, I’ve observed many individuals who have gradually withdrawn from social situations because of the difficulty hearing conversation, especially in noisy situations.
Your husband also needs to understand that hearing loss affects more than just communication and social interaction. It can have a profound impact on various aspects of physical and mental health. Notably, numerous studies have connected hearing loss to dementia1, depression2 and injury-causing falls3. Unfortunately, the longer hearing loss goes untreated, the greater the risk of experiencing one or more of these serious, life-altering health issues.
In addition, as I mentioned above, hearing loss often leads to social withdrawal. While this may seem relatively harmless, socially isolated individuals frequently experience loneliness — which researchers have found can be as harmful to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day4.
Step #2: Point out the impact on others
Hearing loss is often more obvious to family members and friends than it is to the person experiencing it. Maybe you’ve noticed that your husband:
- Frequently asks you to repeat yourself
- Relies on you to be his “ears” in social situations
- Listens to the TV or radio at a volume that’s too loud for you
- Avoids large family gatherings and other noisy settings
These behaviors are more than just annoying — they can detract from the qualify of life of both you and your husband. This leads to my next suggested step…
Step #3: Be compassionate and empathetic
It can be very frustrating to live with someone who has hearing loss, and you may be tempted to lecture or lash out at your husband. However, using compassion and empathy will help you have more meaningful conversations about the effects of his hearing loss. Calmly explain the impact on you, such as the exhaustion you feel having to often repeat yourself or your sadness at missing out on important functions with family and friends. You may also want to point out the health risks of untreated hearing loss, as I described above.
Amplifon Hearing Health Care has created a quick online hearing quiz that you can take together. Use the results to back up your talking points and to pave the way for a professional hearing evaluation.
Step #4: Make a hearing test appointment
Once your husband has acknowledged his hearing loss and has accepted the need for professional help, it’s time to make an appointment with a hearing health care provider. But maybe he’s still hesitant to take this step. That’s okay — it’s an intimidating step for many people.
Frame the appointment in the context of finding out exactly what’s going on with his hearing and what the solution may be (without putting pressure on him to take action now). During my years as a clinical audiologist, I observed that many people find the hearing evaluation appointment to be intimidating and stressful. To help your husband feel more at ease, here’s a brief video explaining what to expect during a hearing health care visit.
It’s important that you accompany your husband to the appointment, because the provider will want to get your perspective on his hearing loss and its impact on your everyday life. Your presence also can help alleviate your husband’s fears and assist him with understanding his treatment options.
Step #5: Address any financial concerns
Cost can frequently be a deterrent for people considering hearing aids. However, here are four things you can do to reduce your cost and increase the value of your investment:
- Find out if your health insurance covers hearing aids and professional services. In particular, a growing number of Medicare Advantage plans now include a hearing benefit, which can substantially decrease out-of-pocket expense.
- Use your flex spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA) funds to pay for hearing aids and hearing health care services.
- If your health insurer offers a hearing benefit through Amplifon, be sure to schedule an appointment with one of our participating providers. The Amplifon program includes follow-up care to help your husband make a smooth transition to his new hearing aids, as well as a supply of batteries (or charging station) and a 3-year warranty covering loss, repairs or damage.
- Inquire about any financing options that spread the cost over time for qualified individuals. With Amplifon, you can even take advantage of interest-free financing.
Here’s something else to make the journey to better hearing a lot easier: When your husband is ready to get hearing help, Amplifon will be ready to simplify the process. Click here to request an appointment with a hearing care provider near you. You can also use our online form to find out whether your husband’s health insurance includes a hearing benefit.