What’s The Best Way to Talk About Hearing Impairment With a Loved One?

Woman showing her mother information about hearing loss and hearing aids in the kitchen.

When your mother is always several seconds too late to laugh at the punchline of a joke or your father stops talking on the phone because it’s too difficult to hear, it’s time to discuss hearing aids. Although a quarter of people aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent of people over the age of 75 have noticeable hearing loss, it can be an altogether different matter getting them to recognize their hearing issues. Most individuals won’t even notice how much their hearing has changed because it declines slowly. And even if they are cognizant of their hearing loss, it can be a big step having them to admit they need hearing aids. The following guidance can help you frame your discussion to ensure it hits the right tone.

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 a lot of time to think about what you will say and how the person may respond. When planning, it’s recommended to frame this as a process as opposed to a single conversation. Your loved one might take weeks or months of talks to admit to hearing loss. There’s nothing wrong with that! Let the conversation have a natural flow. You really need to hold off until your loved one is really comfortable with the decision before proceeding. If someone won’t use their hearing aids, they don’t do much good after all.

Pick The Right Time

When your loved one is alone and calm 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 loss and they could feel like they’re being ganged up on and attacked. To make sure that your loved one hears you correctly and can actively take part in the conversation, a quiet one-on-one is the best plan.

Be Open And Direct in Your Approach

Now isn’t the time to beat around the bush with obscure pronouncements about your concerns. Be direct: “Lets’s have a talk about your hearing mom”. Point out situations where they’ve insisted people are mumbling, had a hard time following tv shows or asked people to repeat themselves. Rather than focusing on your loved one’s hearing itself, focus on the impact of hearing problems on their everyday life. For example, “I’ve observed that you don’t socialize as often with your friends, and I wonder if your hearing problem has something to do with that”.

Acknowledge Their Concerns And Underlying Fears

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 resistant to talk about hearing aids or denies the problem, try to understand where he or she is coming from. Acknowledge how hard this conversation can be. If the conversation begins to go south, wait until a later time.

Provide Help With Further Action

When both people work together you will have the most successful conversation about hearing loss. The process of buying hearing aids can be very daunting and that may be one reason why they are so reluctant. In order to make the journey as smooth as possible, offer to help. Print out and rehearse before you talk. We can also check to see if we take your loved one’s insurance before they call. Some people may feel self-conscious about needing hearing aids so letting them know that hearing loss is more common than they think.

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. Adjusting to life with hearing aids will take time. Your loved one has new sounds to manage, new devices to take care of, and perhaps some old habits to unlearn. During this cycle of adjustment, be an advocate. Take seriously any issues your family member might have with their new hearing aids.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.