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You may recognize the signs in yourself if you’re beginning to experience hearing loss, but do you know what to look for in your loved ones? Especially if you have an older parent or grandparent, you should understand the signs of hearing loss in others.

Some level of hearing loss is normal in older adults, but there is still a stigma associated with making the first step to get help. Sometimes, older adults haven’t even considered using assisted listening devices or hearing aids, even though a large percentage of them report hearing loss. They might be in denial, they don’t think their hearing is that bad, or they’re scared what they’ll find out if they go in for a hearing test. Being a support system for your loved ones when they’re facing this is the most important thing.

There are a few phrases you’ll hear often if you make comments about your loved one’s hearing:

  • “I didn’t hear what you said because you mumbled.”
  • “It’s too loud in here.”
  • “I hear what I need to.”

All of these phrases point to a potential hearing problem. Individuals with some hearing loss will often hear others’ speech as mumbled sentences, and they often struggle to hear when there is a lot of background noise. If they say they can hear enough of what they need to, they may understand that they’re missing out, but they simply aren’t ready for treatment or they are scared and in need of support.

You may notice different signs and symptoms of hearing loss in your loved one, including:

  • Listening to the television or radio uncomfortably loud
  • Complaining about ringing ears
  • Asking you to repeat what you said often
  • Having trouble hearing particular pitches, like women’s and children’s voices
  • Answering questions incorrectly, as if they hadn’t heard the question at all
  • Struggling to follow a conversation
  • Agitation because they can’t follow the conversation and understand what is being said
  • Complaining about people mumbling too much
  • Cutting themselves out of conversations entirely for fear of misunderstanding the conversation and responding incorrectly

On top of these signs and symptoms, your loved one may have a medical or job history that lines up with hearing loss. Perhaps they have a family history of hearing loss, they work in a loud environment, or they take medications that may cause hearing loss. Diabetes, thyroid issues, and circulation problems may also make them more prone to hearing loss.

If you notice these signs in your loved one but they don’t seem to notice anything, calmly and gently express your concerns. Trying to force them to get help or throwing their hearing loss in their face will only discourage them. If they are struggling with facing hearing loss alone, offer to make an appointment for them, attend their appointments with them, or offer to do research to help provide further support.