You know it’s time to begin discussing hearing aids when your dad stops talking on the phone because he has a hard time hearing or your mom always reacts late to the punchline of a joke. Although hearing loss is detectable in a quarter of people between the ages of 65 and 74 and 50% of people over 75, it can be an entirely different matter getting them to acknowledge their hearing problems. Hearing often worsens gradually, meaning that many people might not even recognize how profoundly their everyday hearing has changed. And even if they are aware of their hearing loss, it can be a big step getting them to acknowledge they need hearing aids. The following advice can help you frame your discussion to ensure it hits the right tone.
How to Talk About Hearing Aids With a Loved One
Recognize That it Won’t be a Single Conversation But a Process
Before having the conversation, take some time to think about what you will say and how your loved one will react. When planning, it’s recommended to frame this as a process instead of a single conversation. Your loved one might take weeks or months of talks to acknowledge hearing loss. And that’s fine! Let the conversations continue at a natural pace. The last thing you want to do is force your loved one into getting hearing aids before they’re ready. If someone refuses to use their hearing aids, they don’t do much good after all.
Pick The Right Time
Pick a time when your loved one is relaxed and by themselves. If you pick a time when other people are around you may draw too much attention to your loved one’s hearing problems and they may feel like they’re being ganged up on and attacked. To ensure that your loved one hears you correctly and can actively engage in the conversation, a quiet one-on-one is the best idea.
Be Open And Straightforward in Your Approach
It’s best not to be vague and unclear about your concerns. Be direct: “Lets’s have a talk about your hearing mom”. Give clear examples of symptoms you’ve recognized, like having difficulty hearing tv shows asking people to repeat what they said, complaining that others mumble, or missing content in important conversations. Focus on how your loved one’s hearing problems effect their daily life instead of emphasizing their hearing itself. You could say something like “You aren’t going out with your friends as much anymore, could that be because you have a difficult time hearing them?”.
Be Sensitive to Their Underlying Fears And Concerns
Hearing loss frequently corresponds to a broader fear of losing independence, particularly for older adults dealing with physical frailty or other age-related changes. If your loved one is reluctant to talk about hearing aids or denies the problem, try to understand where he or she is coming from. Acknowledge how hard this discussion can be. If the conversation begins to go south, table it until a later time.
Offer Next Steps
The most effective conversations about hearing loss happen when both people work together to take the next steps. The process of getting hearing aids can be really daunting and that might be one reason why they are so hesitant. So that you can make the journey as smooth as possible, offer to help. Before you talk, print out our information. You can also call us to see if we accept your loved one’s insurance. Some people may feel embarrassed about needing hearing aids so letting them know that hearing loss is more common than they think.
Know That The Process Doesn’t Stop With Hearing Aids
So your loved one consented to consult us and get hearing aids. Great! But the process doesn’t end there. Adapting to life with hearing aids will take time. Your loved one has new sounds to process, new devices to take care of, and maybe some old habits to forget. During this period of adjustment, be an advocate. Take seriously any concerns your family member might have with their new hearing aids.