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It seems that we all have a loved one whose pride gets the better of them when it comes to hearing aids. We tell them about just how much sound they’re missing out on and they insist they’re fine, or they’re not ready for hearing aids, or they can get by without them. While it hurts to see our loved one refusing to take steps to improve their life, we surely also feel a good deal of frustration at the ways they might not see that they depend on us instead of on hearing aids. Let’s take a look at some of the common reasons people give as to why they don’t pursue treatment for their hearing loss, and how you can respond to try to get them to see things differently.
“I Don’t Have a Hearing Problem”
This is possibly the most commonly heard rejection of hearing aids. If your loved one is saying they can hear just fine without hearing aids, it might be that they’re depending on you to be their hearing aids. Things can’t move forward as long as they’re in denial. Take a look at some of the ways you might be helping them to maintain the idea that they don’t have a hearing problem. Do you automatically speak louder when you need to address them? Do you repeat things for them before they ask you to? Try to help them see the ways in which you’re helping them work around their hearing loss, and let them know that this is difficult for you.
“It’s Not Bad Enough Yet To Need Hearing Aids”
If people around them are noticing they have hearing loss, it’s time to get treatment. The longer a person puts off treating their hearing loss, the more likely it is they’ll have a harder time adjusting to hearing aids when they get them. While their hearing loss is untreated, they may get into the habit of tuning out of conversations. Even once they’re able to hear again, this habit will be hard to break. What’s more, if they’re having a hard time hearing speech, the parts of the brain that interpret speech will atrophy over time. They will have to relearn to understand speech again! They are likely also feeling tired more easily, which they may not attribute to their hearing loss; but straining to listen exhausts a person and subtly pulls them away from social interaction altogether, starting the process of social withdrawal that is a well-documented aspect of untreated hearing loss.
“I Don’t Want to Feel Old”
Age-related hearing loss can begin as early as age 45, and may not be noticeable for many years after that. Whenever hearing loss becomes noticeable, treatment should begin in order to avoid the cascading negative effects of letting it run its course. Hearing aids, rather than making people old, really function to keep us feeling young much longer, as they let us participate in conversations and social events more easily. They let us be part of what’s going on, rather than being relegated to the sidelines.
It’s also true that in recent decades, the technology behind hearing aids has come a very long way from what it was in the 20th century. Hearing aids today can be so tiny as to be invisible when placed inside the ear canal, and are tuned to a person’s specific needs in order to assist in separating speech from background noise and even alleviating the irritation associated with tinnitus (ringing in the ears). They can integrate with Bluetooth and other wireless technologies in smartphones and modern automobiles. Put simply, hearing aids create ability where we otherwise might struggle, and that lack of struggle is something we can’t help but associate with youth and vibrancy.
“They’re Too Expensive”
Hearing aids are an investment. While very few health insurance providers cover hearing aids, this is not because they’re not important, but because almost everyone will need them at some point. An ever-growing body of research shows that hearing aids improve our social lives and our performance at work. They reduce the risk of anxiety, depression and cognitive decline associated with untreated hearing loss. They’ve recently been shown to improve our sense of balance, leading to a decreased risk of physical injury due to falling down.
Many hearing aid manufacturers offer a 30-to-60-day trial period so your loved one can make sure they make a positive difference before committing to the expense. Over 85% of people who get hearing aids report being satisfied with them, so even committing to a trial period will likely help your loved one see just how much better life can be with hearing aids.