You know it’s time to start talking over hearing aids when your dad stops using the phone because he has a difficult time hearing or your mom always reacts late to the punchline of a joke. Even though a quarter of individuals aged 65 to 74 and half of individuals over age 75 have noticeable hearing loss, getting them to acknowledge their troubles can be another matter entirely. Most people won’t even notice how much their hearing has changed because it worsens gradually. 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 make sure it hits the right tone.
How to Explain to a Loved One That They Need Hearing Aids
Recognize That it Won’t be a Single Conversation But a Process
When planning to have a discussion about a family member’s hearing impairment, you have lots of time to ponder what you will say and how the person may respond. When preparing, it’s helpful to frame this as a process instead of a single conversation. It may take a series of discussions over weeks or months for your loved one to acknowledge they have a hearing problem. There’s nothing wrong with that! Let the conversation have a natural flow. One thing you don’t want to do is force your loved one into getting hearing aids before they are prepared. If a person refuses to wear their hearing aids, they don’t do much good after all.
Find Your Moment
Decide on a time when your loved one is relaxed and alone. If you choose a time when other people are around you might draw too much attention to your loved one’s hearing loss and they could feel like they’re being ganged up on and attacked. A one-on-one talk with no background noise also ensures that your loved one hears you correctly and can engage in the conversation.
Take a Clear And Direct Approach
Now is not the time to beat around the bush with obscure pronouncements about your worries. Be direct: “Lets’s have a discussion about your hearing mom”. Emphasize situations where they’ve insisted people are mumbling, had a difficult time following tv programs or asked people to repeat what they said. Focus on how your loved one’s hearing issues effect their day-to-day 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 hard time hearing them?”.
Acknowledge Their Concerns And Underlying Fears
Hearing impairment often corresponds to a broader fear of losing independence, specifically for older adults dealing with physical frailty or other age-related changes. Be compassionate and try to understand where your loved one is coming from if they are resistant to the idea that they have hearing impairment. Acknowledge how hard this discussion can be. If the discussion starts to go south, table it until a different time.
Provide Help With Further Action
The most productive discussions about hearing loss occur when both people work together to take the next steps. 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. So that you can make the process as smooth as possible, offer to help. Print out and rehearse before you talk. We can also check to see if we take your loved one’s insurance before they call. 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 End With Hearing Aids
So your loved one agreed to consult us and get hearing aids. Great! But the process doesn’t stop 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. If your family member is dissatisfied with the hearing aids, take those concerns seriously.