You know it’s time to begin discussing hearing aids when your dad stops using the phone because he has a tough time hearing or your mom always laughs late to the punchline of a joke. Although a quarter of individuals aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent of people over the age of 75 have detectable hearing loss, getting them to acknowledge their challenges can be another matter altogether. Most individuals won’t even notice how much their hearing has changed because it worsens gradually. And even if they are cognizant 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 conversation to ensure it hits the right note.
How to Consider 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 consider what you will say and how your loved one will respond. When preparing, it’s recommended to frame this as a process rather than a single conversation. It may take a number of conversations over weeks or months for your loved one to admit they have a hearing problem. There’s nothing wrong with that! Let the conversations proceed at a natural pace. One thing you don’t want to do is force your loved one into getting hearing aids before they’re prepared. After all, hearing aids don’t do any good if someone refuses to wear them.
Pick The Appropriate Time
When your loved one is alone and calm would be the best time. If you pick a time when other people are around you may draw too much attention to your loved one’s hearing loss and they might 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
It’s beneficial not to be vague and unclear about your concerns. Be direct: “Mom, I’d like to speak with you concerning your hearing”. Provide clear examples of symptoms you’ve recognized, like having difficulty following tv shows asking people to repeat themselves, complaining that people mumble, or missing information in important conversations. Focus on how your loved one’s hearing problems impact their day-to-day life rather than talking about their hearing itself. You could say something like “You aren’t going out with your friends as much anymore, 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 face age-related difficulties in particular hearing loss is frequently linked to a wider fear of loss of independence. Be compassionate and try to understand where your loved one is coming from if they are resistant to the idea that they have hearing loss. Acknowledge how difficult this discussion can be. Waite until later if the conversation begins to go south.
Offer Next Steps
The most productive conversations about hearing loss happen when both parties work together to make the right decisions. The process of getting hearing aids can be really daunting and that might be one reason why they are so reluctant. Offer your support to make the transition as smooth as you can. Print out and rehearse before you talk. We can also check to see if we take your loved one’s insurance before they call. Information about the commonness of hearing problems may help individuals who feel sensitive or ashamed about their hearing problems.
Know That The Process Doesn’t Stop With Hearing Aids
So your loved one agreed to see us and get hearing aids. Fantastic! But the process doesn’t stop there. It takes time to adjust to hearing aids. Your loved one has to deal with a new device, new sounds and has to develop new habits. Be an advocate during this adjustment period. If your family member is dissatisfied with the hearing aids, take those issues seriously.