When your mother is always a few seconds too late to react to the punchline of a joke or your father quits talking on the phone because it’s too difficult to hear, it is time to talk about hearing aids. Even though hearing loss is detectable in a quarter of individuals between the ages of 65 and 74 and 50% of individuals over 75, getting them to accept their challenges can be another matter entirely. Hearing often worsens little by little, meaning that many individuals might not even recognize how profoundly 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 admit they need hearing aids. The following advice can help you frame your discussion to make sure it hits the right note.
How to Explain to a Loved One That They Need Hearing Aids
View it as a Process, Not a Single Conversation
Before having the conversation, take some time to consider what you will say and how your loved one will respond. When planning, it’s helpful to frame this as a process as opposed to a single conversation. Your loved one may take weeks or months of conversations to admit to hearing loss. And that’s okay! Let the conversation have a natural flow. One thing you don’t want to do is push your loved one into getting hearing aids before they’re ready. If somebody refuses to use their hearing aids, they don’t do much good after all.
Find Your Moment
Decide on a time when your loved one is calm and alone. 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 could feel like they’re being ganged up on and attacked. To ensure that your loved one hears you correctly and can actively engage in the conversation, a quiet one-on-one is the best plan.
Be Open And Straightforward in Your Approach
Now is not the time to beat around the bush with obscure pronouncements about your concerns. Be direct: “Lets’s have a conversation about your hearing mom”. Give clear examples of symptoms you’ve recognized, such as having difficulty hearing tv shows asking people to repeat what they said, insisting that people mumble, or missing information in important conversations. Focus on how your loved one’s hearing problems effect their day-to-day life instead of emphasizing 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?”.
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 associated with a broader fear of loss of independence. If your loved one is reluctant to talk about hearing aids or denies the issues, try to understand his or her point of view. Acknowledge how hard this conversation can be. Waite until later if the conversation begins to go south.
Provide Help With Further Action
When both people work together you will have the most effective discussion about hearing loss. The process of buying hearing aids can be really daunting and that could be one reason why they are so hesitant. So that you can 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 accept 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.
Know That The Process Doesn’t Stop With Hearing Aids
So your talks were convincing and your loved one has agreed to look into hearing aids. Fantastic! 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 establish new habits. During this period of adjustment, be an advocate. Take seriously any concerns your family member may have with their new hearing aids.