When your mother is always a couple of seconds too late to laugh at the punchline of a joke or your father quits talking on the phone because it’s too tough to hear, it is time to discuss hearing aids. Although hearing loss is detectable in a quarter of people between the ages of 65 and 74 and 50% of people over 75, getting them to recognize their difficulties can be another matter entirely. Most people won’t even notice how much their hearing has changed because it worsens gradually. Even if they do recognize it, acknowledging that they need hearing aids can be a big step. The following advice can help you frame your conversation to ensure it hits the right tone.
How to Tell a Loved One That They Need Hearing Aids
View it as a Process, Not One Conversation
When planning to have a discussion about a family member’s hearing impairment, you have lots of time to consider what you will say and how the person might respond. As you consider this, remember that it will be a process not a single conversation. It might take a series of conversations over weeks or months for your loved one to admit they have a hearing issue. There’s nothing wrong with that! Let the conversation have a natural flow. You really need to wait until your loved one is very comfortable with the idea before proceeding. After all, hearing aids do no good if someone refuses to wear them.
Pick The Appropriate Time
Choose a time when your loved one is relaxed and by themselves. Holidays or large get-togethers can be stressful and may draw more attention to your family member’s hearing problems, making them hypersensitive to any perceived attack. To ensure that your loved one hears you correctly and can actively take part in the conversation, a quiet one-on-one is the best plan.
Be Open And Straightforward in Your Approach
Now isn’t the time to beat around the bush with vague statements about your worries. Be direct: “Mom, I’d like to talk to you about your hearing”. Provide well-defined examples of symptoms you’ve noticed, like having a hard time hearing television programs asking people to repeat what they said, insisting that others mumble, or missing content in important conversations. Rather than emphasizing your loved one’s hearing itself, talk about the effect of hearing problems on their day-to-day life. You could say something like “You don’t seem to go out with your friends as much these days, could that be because you have a hard time hearing them?”.
Be Sensitive to Their Underlying Fears And Concerns
Hearing impairment often corresponds to a broader fear of losing independence, particularly for older adults facing physical frailty or other age-related changes. Be compassionate and attempt to recognize where your loved one is coming from if they resist the idea that they have hearing loss. Let them know that you understand how difficult this conversation can be. Waite until later if the conversation begins to go south.
Offer Next Steps
The most effective discussions about hearing loss happen when both parties work together to take the next steps. The process of purchasing hearing aids can be really overwhelming and that may be one reason why they are so reluctant. So that you can make the journey as smooth as possible, offer to help. Print out and rehearse before you talk. You can also call us to see if we take your loved one’s insurance. Information about the commonness of hearing issues might help people who feel sensitive or embarrassed about their hearing problems.
Recognize That Hearing Aids Aren’t The End of The Process
So your loved one decided to consult us and get hearing aids. Great! But there’s more to it than that. It takes time to adapt to hearing aids. Your loved one has new sounds to process, new devices to take care of, and maybe some old habits to forget. Be an advocate during this adjustment period. If your family member is dissatisfied with the hearing aids, take those concerns seriously.