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’s time to discuss hearing aids. 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 entirely different matter getting them to accept their hearing problems. Hearing usually worsens gradually, meaning that many individuals might not even realize how significantly their everyday hearing has changed. Even if they do know it, recognizing that they need hearing aids can be a big step. If you want to make that discussion easier and more productive, observe the following guidance.
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 discussion about a family member’s hearing loss, you have lots of time to ponder what you will say and how the person may respond. When getting ready, it’s helpful to frame this as a process instead of one conversation. It may take a number of conversations over weeks or months for your loved one to admit they’re suffering from a hearing problem. There’s nothing wrong with that! Allow the conversations to have a natural flow. You really need to wait until your loved one is very comfortable with the idea before proceeding. After all, hearing aids do no good if someone won’t wear them.
Pick The Appropriate Time
When your loved one is alone and relaxed would be the most appropriate time. If you choose a time when other people are around you may draw too much attention to your loved one’s hearing problems and they could feel like they’re being ganged up on and attacked. 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 Direct Approach
It’s best not to be vague and unclear about your concerns. Be direct: “Mom, I’d like to speak with you about your hearing”. Point out circumstances where they’ve insisted people are mumbling, had a difficult time hearing tv shows 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 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 deal with age-related difficulties in particular hearing loss is often associated with a broader fear of loss of independence. If your loved one is reluctant to talk about hearing aids or denies the issues, attempt to understand where he or she is coming from. Acknowledge how hard this discussion can be. If the discussion starts to go south, table it until a later time.
Offer Next Steps
When both people cooperate you will have the most successful discussion about hearing impairment. Part of your loved one’s resistance to admit to hearing loss may be that he or she feels overwhelmed about the process of buying hearing aids. Offer your help to make the change as smooth as you can. Before you talk, print out our information. We can also check to see if we take your loved one’s insurance before they call. Information about the commonness of hearing issues might help individuals who feel sensitive or embarrassed about their hearing problems.
Recognize That Hearing Aids Aren’t The End of The Process
So your talks were convincing and your loved one has agreed to consider hearing aids. Great! But there’s more to it than that. It takes time to adjust to hearing aids. Your loved one has new sounds to process, 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 might have with their new hearing aids.