Do either or both of your parents find it hard to understand conversations? Do they always seem to "lose you" when you try to explain things to them? Do they often reply with "pardon?" or "come again"?
Nearly 25 percent of those aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent of those who are 75 and older have disabling hearing loss, according to the NIDCD.
Before you approach the topic of hearing loss with your parents or whisk them off to a local hearing clinic, you should learn about:
- The signs that will affirm your suspicions
- How to talk your parents into taking a hearing test
- How to talk your parents into buying and using hearing aids; and
- How they can get the best hearing aids and improve the quality of their lives.
First, let's go over a few common causes of hearing loss, especially in seniors above 65.
Causes of Hearing Loss
Age-related hearing loss, called presbycusis, is one of the most common types of hearing loss.
While other causes, such as head trauma, may induce presbycusis, it typically occurs due to aging.
This form of hearing loss is gradual. Usually, it affects the ability to hear higher-pitched sounds first. If left untreated, it will start to affect middle- to lower-pitched sounds, too.
Exposure to loud noise is another one of the most common causes of hearing loss.
This could include a sudden blast such as a gunshot or explosion, or prolonged exposure such as loud music listened to as a kid, or loud machinery noises endured at work.
Approximately 26 million adults aged 20-69 years have suffered permanent damage to their hearing from excessive exposure to noise, says the CDC.
Hearing loss is about twice as common in adults with diabetes, according to a 2008 study funded by the NIH.
Diabetes may lead to hearing loss by damaging the nerves and blood vessels of the inner ear, suggests the researchers.
Over 200 drugs can cause hearing impairment, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
These ototoxic drugs range from over-the-counter pain relievers to prescription medication and chemotherapy.
Signs that Your Parents Need Hearing Aids
Your parent may need hearing aids if he or she:
- Frequently says "what?" when people speak to them.
- Frequently asks people to speak clearer, slower, or louder.
- Can no longer have a smooth conversation in an environment with background noise.
- Has difficulty talking on the phone.
- Withdraws from group conversations.
- Watches and listens to TV and radio at abnormally high volumes.
- Complains people are mumbling or slurring their speech.
- Finds it especially difficult to converse with women and children.
- Complains about a ringing in their ears.
Now you might be saying, "let's not jump to conclusions because of such mild symptoms." However, remember that these are simply signs you can observe from the outside. They're nothing compared to what your parents are dealing with internally.
Additionally, these signs are predecessors, and the situation will continue to worsen if neglected.
If your parents show several of the signs above, it's time to get them to take a hearing test.
How to Talk Your Parents into Taking a Hearing Test
Telling someone they have a hearing problem can be a bit like telling them they have bad breath—it’s often embarrassing for the recipient.
Hearing loss can be a delicate matter, so you must tread carefully.
There's a high chance your parents will deny their struggle with hearing and you may be met with resistance. Be prepared for it, but don't make it an argument you must win.
Below are some tips that can help you discuss hearing loss with your parents and encourage a hearing test.
1. Learn about Hearing Loss
Before talking to your parents about their hearing situation, it is important that you learn about hearing loss itself. This knowledge will help you in presenting your points and answering their questions.
We have published several in-depth articles on the subject of hearing loss. You'll find our “Hearing Issues” series particularly helpful, starting with presbycusis.
2. Choose the Time and Place Carefully
Many people don't like to talk about their health conditions. And when they do, they want it to be as discreet as possible.
Take time to think about where and when would be the perfect opportunity to have such a conversation. You might want to pick a place where your parents won't feel like someone is overhearing the conversation.
Also, consider picking a place with little to no background noise, free from interruptions. You want the conversation to flow as easily as possible.
3. Think about How to Kick-start the Conversation
Getting started is the hardest part, so the saying goes. Think about the approach you'll take towards kick-starting the conversation.
You may choose to inform your parents earlier that you have something important to discuss. You may also choose to start a casual conversation about ears and hearing to see if you can get them talking about their own hearing.
Whichever method you prefer, remember to make it known that you care deeply and want the best for them.
4. Suggest You Go Together for a Hearing Test
If the conversation with your mother or father goes smoothly and they accept that they have some trouble with their hearing, suggest that they take a hearing test.
Getting them to agree may prove to be a difficult hurdle to overcome, but suggesting to go with them to get your own hearing tested may be the nudge they need.
Alternatively, you can also help them take a free online hearing test from the comfort of their home.
This online test should take about 5 minutes, and a licensed audiologist will evaluate their test results and recommend the appropriate treatment.
How to Talk Your Parents into Buying and Using Hearing Aids
Your parents may initially refuse to get a pair of hearing aids. That means it falls on you (again) to motivate them and make them see the importance of hearing aids.
A few points you can present to them include:
The Dangers of Hearing Loss
1. The ears and eyes are responsible for environmental awareness, and the ears particularly help us keep our balance.
A landmark John Hopkins study found that the risk of falling goes up by 140% for every 10 decibels of hearing loss. Meanwhile, falling is the most common cause of injuries for older Americans, according to the CDC.
2. Hearing loss may result in them missing key parts of advice and directions from the doctor or pharmacist.
3. If a person has some degree of hearing loss, and they choose to not treat it, their risk of falling into depression increases. A 2016 study demonstrated that the risk of depression increases as a person's hearing loss becomes more severe.
4. Hearing loss may result in dementia and cognitive decline if it goes untreated.
In a 6-year long study, researchers from the National Institute on Aging and John Hopkins University tracked the overall cognitive abilities of about 2,000 adults with an average age of 77 years. At the end of the study, the researchers concluded that individuals with hearing loss at the beginning of the study had a 24% greater chance of cognitive decline.
In another study focusing on dementia, researchers at John Hopkins also discovered that the worse a person's hearing loss becomes, the more likely they are to develop dementia.
Benefits of Better Hearing
1. Better hearing will improve the quality of time spent with family and friends.
If your parents can hear you clearly without you having to speak louder or even shout, there'll be little to no frustration in the time you spend together. They'll also be able to talk to and play with their grandchildren, whose voices they might struggle to hear without hearing aids.
2. Treating hearing loss can help your parents regain independence.
Untreated hearing loss may result in your parents becoming dependent on other people to execute tasks like driving, communicating on phone, crossing roads, etc.
3. Better hearing can help increase their sense of personal safety.
Apart from helping keep their balance and limiting their risk of falling, hearing better will make your parents become more aware of what's going on around them, thereby increasing their sense of safety.
How to Choose the Right Hearing Aid For Your Parents
Levels of hearing loss include mild, moderate, moderately-severe, severe, and profound.
The results of a hearing test will help an audiologist determine the level of your parents' hearing loss and provide a recommendation.
If you plan to shop for hearing aids online, we advise you to take a look at the top hearing aid brands and find the best option for your parent’s lifestyle and budget.
If you choose to purchase hearing aids on Amazon, pay close attention to the brand, reviews, and whether or not it is an FDA-registered product. If not, you may end up buying an ordinary sound amplifier that is not designed to treat hearing loss.
Where MDHearing Comes in
MDHearing is a US-based, online company that manufactures and ships high-quality, FDA-registered medical hearing aids all over the United States.
We are passionate about making hearing solutions available at a fraction of the price of traditional hearing aids (which often cost thousands of dollars).
With MDHearing, you can get a pair of high-quality rechargeable hearing aids with state-of-the-art technology for $299/pair. Our most advanced model—a smart, Bluetooth-enabled hearing aid—can be customized to your specific hearing loss through the smartphone app and costs under $1,000/pair.
Compared to similar products of the same performance level (Costco hearing aids and those often prescribed at hearing clinics), the savings on our hearing aids run up to thousands of dollars.
Moreover, MDHearing offers a 45-day risk-free trial, a US-based support team trained by licensed audiologists, and free shipping across the United States.
If you’re ready to help your parents take the leap to better hearing and a better quality of life, get started with our free online hearing test. Our in-house audiologists and hearing aid specialists are available to evaluate the results and recommend the best solution for your parents.
Take our quick and easy online hearing test and get results instantly.
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