You know it’s time to start talking over hearing aids when your dad stops talking on the phone because he has a tough time hearing or your mom always laughs late to the punchline of a joke. Although a quarter of people aged 65 to 74 and half of individuals over age 75 have detectable hearing loss, getting them to recognize their troubles can be another matter entirely. Most people won’t even perceive how much their hearing has changed because it declines slowly. Even if they do recognize it, acknowledging that they need hearing aids can be a huge step. If you want to make that conversation easier and more successful, observe the following advice.
How to Discuss Hearing Aids With a Loved One
View it as a Process, Not a Single Conversation
When planning to have a dialogue about a family member’s hearing impairment, you have lots of time to ponder what you will say and how the person might respond. When preparing, it’s recommended to frame this as a process rather than a single conversation. It may take a number of conversations over weeks or months for your loved one to acknowledge they’re suffering from a hearing issue. And that’s okay! Let the conversations proceed at a natural pace. The last thing you want to do is push your loved one into getting hearing aids before they’re ready. After all, hearing aids don’t do any good if someone won’t wear them.
Pick The Appropriate Time
When your loved one is by themselves and calm would be the best time. Holidays or large gatherings can be demanding and may draw more attention to your family member’s hearing issues, making them hypersensitive to any imagined attack. A one-on-one conversation with no background noise also ensures that your loved one hears you correctly and can participate in the conversation.
Take a Clear And Straightforward Approach
Now is not the time to beat around the bush with vague statements about your concerns. Be direct: “Mom, I’d like to speak with you concerning 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. Talk about how your loved one’s hearing problems effect their daily life rather than focusing on their hearing itself. For example, “I’ve observed that you don’t socialize as often with your friends, and I wonder if your hearing issue might be the reason for that”.
Be Sensitive to Their Underlying Fears And Concerns
Hearing loss frequently corresponds to a larger fear of losing independence, particularly for older adults confronted with physical frailty or other age-related changes. If your loved one is reluctant to talk about hearing aids or denies the problem, try to understand where he or she is coming from. Let them know that you recognize how difficult this discussion can be. If the conversation starts 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 may be that he or she feels overwhelmed about the process of getting hearing aids. So that you can make the process as smooth as possible, offer assistance. Before you talk, print out our information. You can also give us a call 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.
Recognize That Hearing Aids Aren’t The End of The Process
So your talks were convincing and your loved one has agreed to look into hearing aids. Fantastic! But the process doesn’t end there. Adapting to life with hearing aids takes some time. Your loved one has to cope with a new device, new sounds and has to establish new habits. During this period of adjustment, be an advocate. If your family member is dissatisfied with the hearing aids, take those issues seriously.