Why bring support to your hearing test?

Top tips for addressing a loved one’s hearing loss

Contributed by James Pocock

31/05/2024 00:00:00 • 3 min read

It can be difficult to bring up the subject of hearing loss with someone you care about. Our hearing is so personal – it’s a fundamental connection to the world around us. No one wants to admit that their hearing could be starting to fade.

Despite 40% of over 50s having some degree of loss, rising to 70% of over 70s1, hearing loss is still perceived as the third most stigmatised aspect of ageing (behind only forgetfulness and frailty).2

But leaving hearing loss untreated can have a huge, negative impact on our lives and has been linked to depression3, anxiety4, social isolation5 and even cognitive decline6.

So if someone you care about is showing signs of hearing loss, it’s important to have a conversation about it, even if it might be uncomfortable, as the benefits of treating hearing loss are much greater than the amount of discomfort you may feel in bringing it up.

We’ve put together some tips for how to approach the subject with someone you care about who might be suffering from hearing loss.

New hearing aids – image shows a woman noticing her hearing ability has changed

Tip 1 Choose a comfortable place to talk

It’s tempting to bring up a loved one’s hearing difficulty in the moment. Maybe you’ve had to repeat yourself several times. Perhaps you're fed up of the TV being so loud. Or maybe you’re tired of acting as a translator at dinner parties or other social events.

While it may seem relevant to discuss the problem then and there, you should remember that it may be difficult for your loved one to accept. Bringing up the issue at the wrong time and catching them off guard may cause them to get defensive and, as a result, not be as receptive to your message. Instead, start the conversation in a quiet and private place that your loved one feels comfortable in.

Tip 2 Be compassionate

Just as important as choosing the place for your conversation is preparing to maintain a compassionate state of mind. Telling your loved one that they may have difficulty hearing should not come from a place of frustration. If you’re feeling frustrated, make sure you take the time to collect yourself before you have the talk. That way, you’re coming at the issue from a more objective standpoint, which your loved one will be better able to relate to.

It may be beneficial to keep a log of situations and settings you notice your loved one has difficulty hearing in. This can also work as a way to process the frustration and turn it into actionable talking points.

Tip 3 Do your research

Your loved one is probably already aware that their hearing is not at its best, but they may not be aware that it’s a significant problem. Be prepared for this. Be ready to get firm about the impact that their hearing is having on their life, from social constraints to mental and physical health challenges. Living with untreated hearing loss affects far more than their ability to hear. Make sure you give them the information they need to take the next step in treating their hearing loss.

Tip 4 Try to get them on the same page as you

If you find that your loved one is having difficulty accepting that they have symptoms of hearing loss (or is reluctant to do something about it), it’s important to get them on the same page as you. A good way to do this is by having them take a simple online hearing test, which they can do at home. While an online hearing screening shouldn’t replace a hearing test with a professional, it can act as a good first step.

Take online hearing test

Tip 5 Be supportive

Even if a loved one wants to seek help for their hearing difficulties, they may not know how. They may feel overwhelmed or insecure. Offer your support and guidance. Gather information for them, help them set up an appointment with a hearing care expert, and join them for the appointment to show your support.

World Hearing Day

1RNID prevalence estimates based on ONS population data, 208

2“A Global study on Wellbeing and Quality of Life”, YouGov, 24,000 adults, across 14 countries, December 2021.

6G Livingston, Jonathan Huntley, Andrew Sommerlad, et al. Dementia prevention, intervention, and care: 2020 report of the Lancet Commission. The Lancet. July 30, 2020.