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 a couple of seconds too late to laugh at the punchline of a joke or your father quits talking on the phone because it’s too hard to hear, it is time to discuss hearing aids. Although a quarter of people aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent of people over age 75 have noticeable hearing loss, it can be an entirely different matter getting them to recognize their hearing problems. Hearing frequently worsens gradually, meaning that many people might not even recognize how profoundly their day-to-day hearing has changed. And even if they are cognizant of their hearing loss, it can be a big step getting them to admit they need hearing aids. The following advice can help you frame your conversation to ensure it hits the right note.

How to Tell a Loved One That They Need Hearing Aids

View it as a Process, Not One Conversation

When preparing to have a conversation about a family member’s hearing loss, you have a lot of time to consider what you will say and how the person may respond. As you think about this, remember that it will be a process not one conversation. It may take a series of discussions over weeks or months for your loved one to accept they have a hearing issue. And that’s fine! 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 someone refuses to wear them.

Pick The Right Time

When your loved one is by themselves and relaxed would be the best time. Holidays or large get togethers can be demanding and could draw more attention to your family member’s hearing issues, 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 participate in the conversation.

Be Open And Direct in Your Approach

It’s beneficial not to be vague and unclear about your concerns. Be direct: “Mom, I’d like to talk to you about your hearing”. Point out situations where they’ve insisted people are mumbling, had a hard time hearing tv programs or asked people to repeat what they said. Talk about how your loved one’s hearing issues effect their daily life instead of focusing on their hearing itself. You could say something like “You aren’t going out with your friends as much these days, could that be because you have a hard time hearing them?”.

Be Sensitive to Their Underlying Fears And Concerns

For older adults who are weaker and deal with age-related challenges in particular hearing loss is often linked to a wider fear of loss of independence. If your loved one is unwilling to talk about hearing aids or denies the problem, attempt to understand his or her point of view. Acknowledge how difficult this conversation can be. If the conversation begins to go south, table it until a different time.

Provide Help With Further Action

The most effective conversations about hearing loss take place when both people work together to make the right decisions. Part of your loved one’s resistance to admit to hearing loss might be that he or she feels overwhelmed about the process of getting hearing aids. Provide your help to make the transition as smooth as possible. Print out and rehearse before you talk. You can also call us to see if we accept your loved one’s insurance. Information about the commonness of hearing issues might help individuals who feel sensitive or embarrassed about their hearing problems.

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. It takes time to adapt to hearing aids. Your loved one has new sounds to process, new devices to take care of, and perhaps some old habits to unlearn. During this period 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.