When your mother is always a couple of seconds too late to laugh at the punchline of a joke or your father quits talking on the phone because it’s too hard to hear, it’s time to discuss hearing aids. Even though hearing loss is noticeable in a quarter of individuals between the ages of 65 and 74 and 50% of individuals over 75, getting them to recognize their troubles can be another matter altogether. Most individuals won’t even notice how much their hearing has changed because it declines gradually. And even if they are aware of their hearing loss, it can be a big step getting them to accept they need hearing aids. The following advice can help you frame your conversation to ensure it hits the right tone.
How to Explain to a Loved One That They Need Hearing Aids
View it as a Process, Not a Single Conversation
Before having the conversation, take the time to consider what you will say and how your loved one will respond. When getting ready, it’s recommended to frame this as a process as opposed to one conversation. It may take a series of conversations over weeks or months for your loved one to admit they have a hearing problem. There isn’t anything wrong with that! Let the conversation have a natural flow. You really need to wait until your loved one is really comfortable with the idea before going ahead. After all, hearing aids do no good if someone won’t wear them.
Pick The Appropriate Time
When your loved one is by themselves and relaxed would be the most appropriate time. Holidays or large get-togethers can be demanding and may draw more attention to your family member’s hearing problems, making them hypersensitive to any imagined attack. A one-on-one talk with no background noise also ensures that your loved one hears you correctly and can participate in the conversation.
Be Clear And Straightforward in Your Approach
It’s best not to be vague and ambiguous about your worries. Be direct: “Mom, I’d like to talk to you concerning your hearing”. Offer clear examples of symptoms you’ve recognized, such as having difficulty hearing tv programs asking people to repeat themselves, complaining that others mumble, or missing information in important conversations. Rather than talking about your loved one’s hearing itself, focus on the impact of hearing issues on their everyday life. 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 hard time hearing them?”.
Be Sensitive to Their Underlying Fears And Concerns
For older adults who are weaker and face age-related challenges in particular hearing loss is frequently associated with a wider fear of loss of independence. Be compassionate and try to recognize 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 later time.
Offer Next Steps
The most productive discussions about hearing loss occur when both people work together to make the right decisions. The process of getting hearing aids can be very daunting and that might be one reason why they are so hesitant. So that you can make the journey as smooth as possible, offer to help. Before you talk, print out our information. We can also check to see if we accept your loved one’s insurance before they call. Information about the commonness of hearing issues may help individuals who feel sensitive or ashamed about their hearing loss.
Realize That Hearing Aids Aren’t The End of The Process
So your talks were compelling and your loved one has agreed to consider hearing aids. Fantastic! But the process doesn’t end there. It takes time to adjust to hearing aids. Your loved one has to cope with a new device, new sounds and has to establish new habits. Be an advocate during this adjustment period. Take seriously any concerns your family member may have with their new hearing aids.