You know it’s time to start discussing hearing aids when your dad stops talking on the phone because he has a difficult time hearing or your mom always laughs late to the punchline of a joke. Although hearing loss is noticeable in a quarter of people between the ages of 65 and 74 and 50% of individuals over 75, getting them to recognize their troubles can be another matter entirely. Most people won’t even notice how much their hearing has changed because it declines slowly. And even if they are aware of their hearing loss, it can be a big step getting them to admit they need hearing aids. The following advice can help you frame your conversation to ensure it hits the right note.
How to Discuss Hearing Aids With a Loved One
View it as a Process, Not a Single Conversation
Before having the conversation, take the time to think about what you will say and how your loved one will react. When planning, it’s recommended to frame this as a process rather than a single conversation. It may take a number of discussions over weeks or months for your loved one to accept they’re suffering from a hearing problem. There’s nothing wrong with that! Let the conversations proceed 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 won’t use their hearing aids, they don’t do much good after all.
Pick The Appropriate Time
When your loved one is by themselves and relaxed would be the most appropriate time. Holidays or large gatherings can be demanding and might draw more attention to your family member’s hearing problems, making them hypersensitive to any imagined attack. To make sure that your loved one hears you correctly and can actively engage in the conversation, a quiet one-on-one is the best idea.
Take a Clear And Direct Approach
Now is not the time to beat around the bush with vague pronouncements about your concerns. Be direct: “Mom, I’d like to speak with you concerning your hearing”. Mention situations where they’ve insisted people are mumbling, had a difficult time following tv shows or asked people to repeat what they said. Focus on how your loved one’s hearing problems impact their day-to-day life instead of talking about their hearing itself. You could say something like “You don’t seem to go out with your friends as much anymore, could that be because you have a difficult time hearing them?”.
Be Sensitive to Their Underlying Fears And Concerns
Hearing impairment frequently 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 recognize where your loved one is coming from if they resist the idea that they have hearing loss. Let them know that you understand how difficult this conversation can be. If the discussion begins to go south, table it until a later time.
Provide Help With Further Action
When both people work together you will have the most effective discussion about hearing loss. Part of your loved one’s resistance 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, assistance. Print out and rehearse before you talk. We can also check to see if we accept your loved one’s insurance before they call. Some people may 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 compelling and your loved one has agreed to look into hearing aids. Fantastic! But there’s more to it than that. It takes time to adjust to hearing aids. Your loved one has to cope with a new device, new sounds and has to develop new habits. During this period of adjustment, be an advocate. Take seriously any issues your family member may have with their new hearing aids.