When your mother is always a couple of seconds too late to laugh at the punchline of a joke or your father stops talking on the phone because it’s too tough to hear, it is time to discuss hearing aids. Although a quarter of people aged 65 to 74 and half of individuals over the age of 75 have detectable hearing loss, it can be an entirely different matter getting them to recognize their hearing issues. Most people won’t even perceive how much their hearing has changed because it declines little by little. And even if they are cognizant of their hearing loss, it can be a big step getting them to accept they need hearing aids. If you want to make that discussion easier and more productive, observe the following advice.
How to Tell a Loved One That They Need Hearing Aids
Recognize That it Won’t be a Single Conversation But a Process
When preparing to have a dialogue about a family member’s hearing impairment, you have a lot of time to think about what you will say and how the person might react. When getting ready, it’s helpful to frame this as a process instead of one conversation. It may take a series of conversations over weeks or months for your loved one to admit they’re suffering from a hearing issue. And that’s fine! Let the discussions continue at their own pace. You really need to hold off until your loved one is really comfortable with the decision before proceeding. If a person refuses to 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 by themselves. Holidays or large gatherings can be demanding and might draw more attention to your family member’s hearing problems, making them sensitive to any perceived attack. A one-on-one conversation with no background noise also helps ensure that your loved one hears you correctly and can participate in the conversation.
Be Open And Direct in Your Approach
Now is not the time to beat around the bush with vague statements about your worries. Be direct: “Mom, I’d like to speak with you concerning your hearing”. Give clear examples of symptoms you’ve noticed, like having trouble following tv shows asking people to repeat themselves, insisting that others mumble, or missing content in important conversations. Rather than emphasizing your loved one’s hearing itself, focus on the effect of hearing issues on their everyday life. For instance, “I’ve observed that you don’t spend as much time with your friends, and I wonder if your hearing issue has something to do with that”.
Be Sensitive to Their Underlying Fears And Concerns
For older adults who are more frail and face age-related difficulties in particular hearing loss is often associated with a wider fear of loss of independence. Be compassionate and attempt to understand where your loved one is coming from if they are resistant to the idea that they have hearing loss. Acknowledge how difficult this conversation can be. Waite until later if the conversation begins to go south.
Offer Next Steps
When both people cooperate you will have the most successful discussion about hearing loss. Part of your loved one’s resistance to admit to hearing loss might be that he or she feels overwhelmed about the process of buying hearing aids. Provide your support to make the change as smooth as possible. Print out and rehearse before you talk. You can also call us to see if we take your loved one’s insurance. Some people might 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 see 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 new sounds to process, new devices to care for, and maybe some old habits to unlearn. During this period of adjustment, be an advocate. Take seriously any issues your family member may have with their new hearing aids.