When your mother is always several seconds too late to laugh at the punchline of a joke or your father quits talking on the phone because it’s too difficult to hear, it is time to discuss hearing aids. Even though a quarter of people aged 65 to 74 and half of individuals over the age of 75 have detectable hearing loss, getting them to accept their difficulties can be another matter altogether. Most people won’t even perceive 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 having them to accept they need hearing aids. The following advice can help you frame your discussion to make sure it hits the right note.
How to Discuss Hearing Aids With a Loved One
Recognize That it Won’t be a Single Conversation But a Process
Before having the discussion, take the time to think about what you will say and how your loved one will respond. As you consider this, remember that it will be a process not one discussion. Your loved one might take weeks or months of conversations to accept hearing loss. There isn’t anything wrong with that! Let the conversations proceed at a natural pace. The last thing you want to do is force your loved one into getting hearing aids before they are ready. After all, hearing aids do no good if someone refuses to wear them.
Pick The Appropriate Time
Pick a time when your loved one is calm and by themselves. If you go with a time when other people are around you might 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 engage in the conversation.
Be Open And Straightforward in Your Approach
Now is not the time to beat around the bush with obscure statements about your concerns. Be direct: “Mom, I’d like to speak with you about your hearing”. Present clear examples of symptoms you’ve observed, like having trouble hearing television programs asking people to repeat what they said, complaining that others mumble, or missing content in important conversations. Focus on how your loved one’s hearing problems effect their day-to-day life instead of talking about their hearing itself. You could say something like “You don’t seem to go out with your friends as much these days, could that be because you have a difficult time hearing them?”.
Acknowledge Their Concerns And Underlying Fears
Hearing impairment often corresponds to a larger fear of losing independence, particularly for older adults facing physical frailty or other age-related changes. If your loved one is unwilling 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 individuals cooperate you will have the most successful conversation about hearing loss. Part of your loved one’s reluctance to admit to hearing loss may be that he or she feels overwhelmed about the process of buying hearing aids. In order to 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 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.
Realize That Hearing Aids Aren’t The End of The Process
So your talks were persuasive and your loved one has agreed to explore hearing aids. Great! But there’s more to it than that. It takes time to adjust to hearing aids. Your loved one has to cope with a new device, new sounds and has to develop new habits. During this period of adjustment, be an advocate. If your family member is dissatisfied with the hearing aids, take those issues seriously.