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 tough to hear, it is time to talk about hearing aids. Although hearing loss is noticeable in a quarter of individuals between the ages of 65 and 74 and 50% of individuals over 75, it can be an altogether different matter getting them to recognize their hearing problems. Most individuals won’t even perceive how much their hearing has changed because it worsens slowly. And even if they are aware of their hearing loss, it can be a big step getting them to acknowledge they need hearing aids. If you want to make that discussion easier and more productive, observe the following advice.
How to Talk About Hearing Aids With a Loved One
View it as a Process, Not a Single Conversation
When preparing to have a conversation about a family member’s hearing impairment, you have lots of time to consider what you will say and how the person may react. When planning, it’s helpful to frame this as a process as opposed to a single conversation. It might take a series of conversations over weeks or months for your loved one to acknowledge they have a hearing issue. There’s nothing wrong with that! Let the conversation have a natural flow. One thing you don’t want to do is force your loved one into getting hearing aids before they are ready. If somebody refuses to use their hearing aids, they don’t do much good after all.
Pick The Right Time
When your loved one is by themselves and calm would be the most appropriate time. Holidays or large gatherings can be demanding and could draw more attention to your family member’s hearing issues, making them hypersensitive to any perceived attack. To make sure that your loved one hears you correctly and can actively participate in the conversation, a quiet one-on-one is the best idea.
Be Clear And Direct in Your Approach
It’s beneficial not to be vague and ambiguous about your worries. Be direct: “Lets’s have a conversation about your hearing mom”. Offer well-defined examples of symptoms you’ve noticed, such as having a hard time hearing tv shows asking people to repeat themselves, insisting that people mumble, or missing content in important conversations. Rather than talking about your loved one’s hearing itself, focus on the impact of hearing issues on their day-to-day life. For instance, “I’ve noticed that you don’t socialize as often with your friends, and I wonder if your hearing issue 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 associated with a broader fear of loss of independence. If your loved one is reluctant to talk about hearing aids or denies the issues, attempt to understand where he or she is coming from. Acknowledge how hard this discussion can be. Waite until later if the conversation begins to go south.
Offer Next Steps
When both people cooperate you will have the most successful discussion about hearing impairment. Part of your loved one’s reluctance to admit to hearing loss might be that he or she feels overwhelmed about the process of purchasing hearing aids. Provide your help to make the transition as smooth as possible. Print out and rehearse before you talk. You can also give us a call to see if we accept your loved one’s insurance. Some people may feel embarrassed about needing hearing aids so letting them know that hearing loss is more common than they think.
Realize That Hearing Aids Aren’t The End of The Process
So your talks were compelling and your loved one has agreed to explore hearing aids. Great! But there’s more to it than that. It takes time to adapt to hearing aids. Your loved one has to deal with a new device, new sounds and has to create new habits. Be an advocate during this adjustment period. Take seriously any issues your family member might have with their new hearing aids.