You know it’s time to start talking about hearing aids when your dad stops using the phone because he has a hard time hearing or your mom always reacts late to the punchline of a joke. Even though a quarter of people aged 65 to 74 and half of individuals over age 75 have noticeable hearing loss, getting them to acknowledge their difficulties can be another matter entirely. Hearing usually declines slowly, meaning that many people may not even recognize how profoundly their day-to-day hearing has changed. Even if they do know it, recognizing that they need hearing aids can be a big step. The following advice can help you frame your conversation to make sure it hits the right note.
How to Talk About Hearing Aids With a Loved One
Recognize That it Won’t be One Conversation But a Process
When preparing to have a conversation about a family member’s hearing loss, you have lots of time to think about what you will say and how the person may react. As you consider this, remember that it will be a process not a single conversation. Your loved one may take weeks or months of talks to accept hearing loss. And that’s okay! Let the conversation have a natural flow. The last thing you want to do is push your loved one into getting hearing aids before they’re prepared. If somebody won’t use their hearing aids, they don’t do much good after all.
Pick The Appropriate Time
Pick a time when your loved one is relaxed and alone. Holidays or large gatherings can be stressful and may draw more attention to your family member’s hearing problems, making them sensitive to any imagined 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.
Take a Clear And Direct Approach
It’s beneficial not to be vague and unclear about your worries. Be direct: “Mom, I’d like to speak with you about your hearing”. Give clear examples of symptoms you’ve noticed, like having difficulty following tv shows asking people to repeat themselves, complaining that people mumble, or missing content in important conversations. Focus on how your loved one’s hearing issues impact their day to day life instead of talking about their hearing itself. For example, “I’ve observed that you don’t spend as much time with your friends, and I wonder if your hearing issue might be the reason for that”.
Acknowledge Their Concerns And Underlying Fears
For older adults who are more frail and deal with age-related difficulties in particular hearing loss is often linked to a wider fear of loss of independence. Be compassionate and try to understand where your loved one is coming from if they are resistant to 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
When both individuals work together you will have the most successful discussion about hearing impairment. The process of getting hearing aids can be really overwhelming and that could be one reason why they are so hesitant. Provide your support to make the transition as smooth as possible. Before you talk, print out our information. You can also give us a call to see if we accept your loved one’s insurance. Some people may feel self-conscious 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 talks were compelling and your loved one has agreed to consider hearing aids. Fantastic! But the process doesn’t end there. It takes time to adapt to hearing aids. Your loved one has to cope with a new device, new sounds and has to create new habits. During this cycle of adjustment, be an advocate. Take seriously any issues your family member might have with their new hearing aids.