hearWe’ve all been there.

There’s a moment when you’re in the midst of a conversation with someone, and it’s painfully obvious that they can’t hear you. It’s not because you’re sitting in a noisy restaurant or trying to talk over heavy road traffic. It’s because they simply can’t hear you; they’re suffering from some degree of hearing loss.

Unfortunately, that someone might be a person you’re close to, such as a parent or other loved one. This is becoming all too common.

Experts say that as many as 35 million Americans over the age of 50 has some degree of hearing loss, but only 14 percent of them use some type of hearing aid. Additionally, most people will suffer with hearing loss for an average of seven to 10 years before seeking help for the problem.

That’s a long time to go without accurately hearing the world around you.

For many older Americans, there are several reasons to neglect addressing hearing issues. One is the cost of the hearing aid itself, which can run into the thousands of dollars. However, perhaps the most common reason is most people don’t want to admit there is a problem. For many people, admitting to a hearing problem goes hand in hand with admitting to the inevitability of the aging process and that can be a hard pill to swallow.

For those people with parents or other family members with untreated hearing loss, it can be difficult to have a dialogue that adequately conveys the importance of a hearing examination. We’ll look at a few ways to make this conversation a little easier.

Discuss the Advancements in Hearing Technology

Some people might know how technologically advanced today’s hearing aids are. Gone are the days of the bulky, over-the-ear contraptions that broadcast to the world that the wearer suffered from hearing loss. Today’s hearing aids utilize much more advanced technology and are as inconspicuous as possible.

If your loved one with hearing loss is interested in new technology, present them with information about Apple’s new work with hearing aids. The tech giant has partnered with a Dutch company to create a hearing aid that syncs with an iPhone or iPod and allows phone calls and other sounds to be transmitted directly to an ear piece. When the device is not in use, it acts as a regular hearing aid, picking up and transmitting sound through a microphone. These hearing aids can be adjusted for various environments, such as work meetings or movie theaters and offer the user a wide range of customizable features.

The manufacturers hope with this new technology more people with hearing loss will be attracted to the new features and be more willing to tackle their hearing problems.

Discuss Costs and Available Financial Assistance

With so many older Americans on a fixed income and most insurance plans unwilling to cover the cost of hearing aids, the expense alone prevents many people from seeking help for their hearing problems. Hearing aids can be quite expensive but there are several ways to address the problem of cost.

Low income residents of certain states can qualify for hearing aids through Medicaid and Medicare programs, and children or college students can qualify for assistance as well. Local state and city organizations can offer help, as well. For instance, there are 13 hearing center locations in Michigan and Indiana that can offer more information.

Discuss the Science of Hearing Loss

Many people pride themselves on their logic and objective reasoning abilities. If this is the case with your loved one with hearing loss, it might be quite effective to present scientific information about hearing loss to them and discuss the various scientific studies devoted to the issue.

Recently, a study by researchers at Johns Hopkins followed almost 2,000 people with degenerative hearing loss over 10 years. Brain scans and cognitive tests were given to the participants, and the results of the study were shocking.

Adults with hearing loss between the ages of 75 and 84 experienced declines in cognitive and memory abilities over 30 percent faster than those without hearing loss or those who used hearing aids. Scientists believe since the brain must expend significant energy on hearing, other areas of the brain receive less energy, which results in the loss of cognition.