What’s The Best Way to Discuss 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 react to the punchline of a joke or your father stops talking on the phone because it’s too hard to hear, it is time to talk about hearing aids. Although a quarter of individuals aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent of people over the age of 75 have noticeable hearing loss, getting them to acknowledge their difficulties can be another matter entirely. Hearing often worsens slowly, meaning that many individuals might not even realize how significantly their day-to-day hearing has changed. And even if they are aware of their hearing loss, it can be a big step having them to accept they need hearing aids. The following guidance can help you frame your conversation to make sure it hits the right note.

How to Consider Hearing Aids With a Loved One

View it as a Process, Not One Conversation

Before having the conversation, take some time to think about what you will say and how your loved one will react. When getting ready, it’s recommended to frame this as a process instead of a single conversation. It may take a number of discussions over weeks or months for your loved one to acknowledge they have a hearing issue. And that’s okay! Allow the conversations to have a natural flow. You really need to hold off until your loved one is very comfortable with the decision before going ahead. After all, hearing aids don’t do any good if somebody refuses to wear them.

Choose Your Moment

When your loved one is by themselves and calm would be the most appropriate time. Holidays or large gatherings can be stressful and may draw more attention to your family member’s hearing problems, making them sensitive to any perceived attack. A one-on-one conversation with no background noise also helps ensure that your loved one hears you correctly and can engage in the conversation.

Take a Clear And Direct Approach

Now is not the time to beat around the bush with vague pronouncements about your worries. Be direct: “Mom, I’d like to speak with you about your hearing”. Offer clear examples of symptoms you’ve recognized, like having difficulty hearing television programs asking people to repeat what they said, insisting that people mumble, or missing content in important conversations. Rather than talking about your loved one’s hearing itself, talk about the impact of hearing problems on their day-to-day life. For instance, “I’ve observed that you don’t socialize as often with your friends, and I wonder if your hearing issue might be the reason for that”.

Acknowledge Their Concerns And Underlying Fears

For older adults who are weaker and deal with age-related challenges in particular hearing loss is frequently associated with a broader fear of loss of independence. If your loved one is resistant to talk about hearing aids or denies the issues, attempt to understand where he or she is coming from. Let them know that you recognize how hard this conversation can be. Waite until later if the conversation begins to go south.

Provide Help With Further Action

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 might be that he or she feels overwhelmed about the process of buying hearing aids. Provide your support to make the transition as smooth as possible. Print out and rehearse before you talk. You can also call us to see if we take your loved one’s insurance. Some people might 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 convincing and your loved one has agreed to consider hearing aids. Fantastic! But the process doesn’t end there. Adapting to life with hearing aids takes time. Your loved one has to deal with a new device, new sounds and has to develop new habits. Be an advocate during this adjustment time. Take seriously any concerns 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.