You know it’s time to start talking over 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. Even though 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 altogether different matter getting them to recognize their hearing issues. Most people won’t even notice how much their hearing has changed because it declines gradually. And even if they are cognizant of their hearing loss, it can be a big step getting them to admit they need hearing aids. If you want to make that conversation easier and more productive, observe the following guidance.
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 loss, you have lots of time to ponder what you will say and how the person might respond. When planning, it’s helpful to frame this as a process as opposed to one conversation. It might take a series of discussions over weeks or months for your loved one to accept they have a hearing problem. There isn’t anything wrong with that! Allow the conversations to have a natural flow. The last thing you want to do is push your loved one into getting hearing aids before they are prepared. After all, hearing aids do no good if someone refuses to wear them.
Choose Your Moment
Choose a time when your loved one is calm and alone. Holidays or large gatherings can be stressful and might draw more attention to your family member’s hearing issues, making them sensitive 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 idea.
Be Clear And Direct in Your Approach
Now is not the time to beat around the bush with obscure pronouncements about your concerns. Be direct: “Mom, I’d like to talk to you about your hearing”. Emphasize circumstances where they’ve insisted people are mumbling, had a difficult time following tv programs or asked people to repeat what they said. Rather than talking about your loved one’s hearing itself, focus on the impact of hearing problems on their day-to-day life. 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 impairment often corresponds to a broader fear of losing independence, specifically for older adults facing physical frailty or other age-related changes. If your loved one is resistant to talk about hearing aids or denies the issues, 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 productive discussions about hearing loss take place when both people work together to make the right decisions. Part of your loved one’s reluctance to admit to hearing loss might be that he or she feels overwhelmed about the process of buying hearing aids. In order to make the journey as smooth as possible, offer to help. Print out and rehearse before you talk. We can also check to see if we accept your loved one’s insurance before they call. Information about the commonness of hearing problems may help individuals who feel sensitive or embarrassed about their hearing problems.
Know That The Process Doesn’t Stop With Hearing Aids
So your talks were compelling and your loved one has agreed to look into hearing aids. Fantastic! But there’s more to it than that. It takes time to adapt to hearing aids. Your loved one has new sounds to manage, new devices to take care of, and perhaps some old habits to forget. During this cycle of adjustment, be an advocate. Take seriously any issues your family member may have with their new hearing aids.