What’s The Best Way to Talk About Hearing Loss 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 tough to hear, it’s time to talk about hearing aids. Although hearing loss is noticeable in a quarter of people between the ages of 65 and 74 and 50% of people over 75, getting them to acknowledge their difficulties can be another matter altogether. Hearing usually worsens slowly, meaning that many people may not even realize how profoundly their everyday hearing has changed. Even if they do know it, admitting that they need hearing aids can be a huge step. If you want to make that conversation easier and more productive, observe the following advice.

How to Discuss Hearing Aids With a Loved One

Recognize That it Won’t be One Conversation But a Process

Before having the discussion, take some time to consider what you will say and how your loved one will respond. When preparing, it’s recommended to frame this as a process as opposed to a single conversation. It may take a number of discussions over weeks or months for your loved one to acknowledge they’re suffering from a hearing issue. There’s nothing wrong with that! Let the conversations continue at a natural pace. The last thing you want to do is push your loved one into getting hearing aids before they are ready. If somebody won’t use their hearing aids, they don’t do much good after all.

Choose Your Moment

Choose a time when your loved one is relaxed and alone. Holidays or large get-togethers can be stressful and could draw more attention to your family member’s hearing issues, making them sensitive to any imagined 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 Straightforward Approach

It’s beneficial not to be vague and ambiguous about your concerns. Be direct: “Mom, I’d like to speak with you about your hearing”. Point out situations where they’ve insisted people are mumbling, had a difficult time hearing tv shows or asked people to repeat themselves. Rather than emphasizing your loved one’s hearing itself, focus on the impact of hearing issues on their daily life. For instance, “I’ve noticed that you don’t spend as much time 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 deal with age-related difficulties in particular hearing loss is frequently 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 his or her point of view. Let them know that you recognize how difficult this conversation can be. If the conversation begins to go south, wait until a different time.

Provide Help With Further Action

The most effective discussions about hearing loss take place when both parties work together to make the right decisions. The process of purchasing hearing aids can be really daunting and that could be one reason why they are so hesitant. In order to make the process 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 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 persuasive and your loved one has agreed to look into hearing aids. Fantastic! But the process doesn’t end there. Adapting to life with hearing aids takes some time. Your loved one has new sounds to manage, new devices to take care of, and perhaps some old habits to forget. During this cycle of adjustment, be an advocate. If your family member is unhappy with the hearing aids, take those concerns seriously.

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.