When families gather for Thanksgiving, obvious health concerns like alcohol abuse become evident to everyone at the party. But what about “silent” health issues like hearing loss?
During the holiday season, far-flung family members come home, sharing time together after months, sometimes years, apart.
When that much time passes between visits with siblings and parents, health concerns that may have gone unnoticed in day to day life are suddenly more pronounced and obvious, said Dr. Sara Burdak, audiologist and Sr. Director of Education & Audiology at Starkey Hearing Technologies. “Hearing loss is one of those “silent” health problems that can come on so gradually, neither the person experiencing the loss or the people who see them every day even notice until the loss is severe.”
She advises that, especially in older adults, symptoms of hearing loss are frequently misinterpreted as signs of dementia. “An older person who seems confused, withdrawn or uninterested in participating in conversation during holiday get togethers may simply be having difficulty hearing and keeping up with the conversation. Just paying attention to how the person is interacting with others in the room or at the table can be very telling.” Burdak says that problems hearing the doorbell ringing as guests arrive, difficulty hearing people calling from another room, or frequently asking people to repeat themselves are often indicative of a hearing problem.
“Of course, when you get a lot of people in the same room, especially during the holidays, it’s going to get noisy, so take that into consideration,” said Burdak. “But if you really notice a decline in someone’s ability to hear, be sure to address it with them. As said earlier, hearing loss can be a very gradual process, and the person with the problem may not even be aware of the issue.” She recommends waiting until the festivities have quieted down before attempting to have a serious conversation, and to be prepared for the fact that the person may deny having a hearing problem, or may not be ready to talk.
“The important thing is to start the discussion,” said Burdak “If they truly haven’t noticed their hearing loss, you’ve made them aware that they may have a problem. Try to follow up after a week or so to see if they’ve thought about making an appointment for a hearing evaluation. Offer to help them find a hearing professional. The earlier someone is diagnosed and treated for hearing loss, the better, for all concerned.”
The holidays often provide the perfect opportunity for a heartfelt family discussion about health concerns. Recognizing the causes and types of hearing loss can help pinpoint the problem, and rule out other medical issues.
With the support of family, a person with hearing problems may be more able to accept the need to get hearing loss treatment, and may be ready to take the first steps to better hearing – a hearing test, and, if necessary, hearing aids. What a great gift to give a loved one (or yourself) this holiday season!
Avoid unnecessary frustrations this Holiday season. Make your appointment by simply visiting our Contact Us page to request a free hearing test. At Advanced Tech Hearing Aid Centers, we look forward to helping make your season free from struggles with hearing loss and full of joy.
Check out our E brochure here: advancedtechhearingaidcenters.ebrochure
Ed Kocher, ACA, BC-HIS
Board Certified Hearing Instrument Specialist