When your mother is always a couple of seconds too late to react to the punchline of a joke or your father quits talking on the phone because it’s too difficult to hear, it’s time to talk about hearing aids. Even though a quarter of individuals aged 65 to 74 and half of people over the age of 75 have noticeable hearing loss, it can be an entirely different matter getting them to recognize their hearing problems. Most individuals won’t even perceive how much their hearing has changed because it worsens little by little. And even if they are cognizant of their hearing loss, it can be a big step getting them to acknowledge they need hearing aids. The following advice can help you frame your conversation to ensure it hits the right note.
How to Tell a Loved One That They Need Hearing Aids
View it as a Process, Not a Single Conversation
Before having the discussion, take the time to think about what you will say and how your loved one will react. When getting ready, it’s helpful to frame this as a process as opposed to a single conversation. It might take a number of discussions over weeks or months for your loved one to admit they’re suffering from a hearing issue. And that’s okay! Let the discussions continue at a natural pace. One thing you don’t want to do is push your loved one into getting hearing aids before they’re ready. After all, hearing aids do no good if someone refuses to wear them.
Pick The Appropriate Time
When your loved one is by themselves and relaxed would be the best time. If you go with a time when other people are around you may draw too much attention to your loved one’s hearing loss and they may feel like they’re being ganged up on and attacked. A one-on-one talk 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 isn’t the time to beat around the bush with vague pronouncements about your concerns. Be direct: “Mom, I’d like to talk to you about your hearing”. Mention circumstances where they’ve insisted people are mumbling, had a hard time following tv programs or asked people to repeat what they said. Talk about how your loved one’s hearing problems impact their daily life instead of focusing on their hearing itself. For example, “I’ve noticed that you don’t socialize as often with your friends, and I wonder if your hearing problem 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 linked to a broader fear of loss of independence. Be compassionate and attempt to recognize where your loved one is coming from if they resist the idea that they have hearing impairment. Acknowledge how difficult this discussion can be. Waite until later if the conversation begins to go south.
Offer Next Steps
The most effective discussions about hearing loss take place when both parties work together to make the right decisions. 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. So that you can make the process as smooth as possible, offer to help. Print out and rehearse before you talk. You can also give us a call to see if we accept your loved one’s insurance. Information about the commonness of hearing problems may help people who feel sensitive or ashamed about their hearing loss.
Know That The Process Doesn’t End With Hearing Aids
So your loved one agreed to see us and get hearing aids. Fantastic! But there’s more to it than that. It takes time to adapt to hearing aids. Your loved one has new sounds to manage, new devices to care for, and maybe some old habits to unlearn. During this cycle of adjustment, be an advocate. If your family member is unhappy with the hearing aids, take those issues seriously.