5 Ways to Support a Parent Experiencing Hearing Loss

Do you have a parent experiencing hearing loss? Hearing loss can be an isolating and challenging experience. Having a supportive group of family and friends is essential to coping with hearing loss. It can be difficult to know where to start in figuring out how to support a parent experiencing hearing loss. Below are 5 simple things you can do to support them at every stage of hearing loss.

1. Encourage your parent to address their hearing loss early by seeking medical support and getting the tools they need to cope with their hearing loss. Early intervention for hearing loss is key to preventing other challenging health consequences. An early diagnosis and early intervention reduce the risk of other long-term conditions that are linked with hearing loss, like dementia.

Addressing hearing loss early also allows your parent to begin coping with hearing loss before it becomes too disruptive, allowing them to ease into their a new challenge. If you notice that your loved one is having trouble hearing with increased frequency, lovingly encourage them to seek medical attention. Though having these conversations may be hard, they will ultimately help your parent experiencing hearing loss.

2. Be patient if asked to repeat things. With a parent experiencing hearing loss, your parent might ask you to repeat what you’ve said to them.

Rather than becoming annoyed and frustrated, it can be helpful to smile and use this as an opportunity to practice enunciating and speaking more clearly. Take a moment to appreciate the beauty of communication and feel grateful that you’re able to have this connection with your loved one.

3. Avoid distracting surround sounds. Put the television on mute when you’re talking to your parent experiencing hearing loss and turn the blender off. Surround sounds make it harder for those experiencing hearing loss to make out words that are being spoken.

4. Be conscientious of the activities you choose. Be thoughtful about which activities might not be as fun for your parent anymore (but don’t make unwarranted assumptions!)

Maybe you and your loved one loved going to the movie theater together every Friday night. Watching movies in the theater can be difficult when experiencing hearing loss, since the words can become more difficult to make out. If this is the case, you can try watching movies at home instead, making it a fun Friday night tradition with cozy blankets and homemade treats!

But again, don’t assume–your loved one might still enjoy the experience of going to the theater, so it’s important to continue communicating and checking in with them. Other activities that might become more difficult include: bustling social gatherings, meals in crowded restaurants, and concerts.

5. Remember that hearing loss does not define them. Just because your parent is experiencing hearing loss doesn’t mean they don’t want to or aren’t able to communicate with you. Don’t let hearing loss change the dynamic of your relationship with your parent. They are the same person they have always been, and with your support, your relationship will only continue to deepen.

Originally published at lucidhearing.com on January 25, 2017.

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