How to Talk to a Loved One About Hearing Impairment

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 quits talking on the phone because it’s too difficult to hear, it is time to talk about hearing aids. Although hearing loss is detectable in a quarter of people from 65 yo74 and 50% of individuals over 75, it can be an altogether different matter getting them to acknowledge their hearing problems. Most people won’t even perceive how much their hearing has changed because it declines slowly. 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 make sure it hits the right note.

How to Discuss Hearing Aids With a Loved One

View it as a Process, Not a Single Conversation

Before having the discussion, take some time to think about what you will say and how your loved one will respond. As you think about this, remember that it will be a process not one conversation. It may take a series of conversations over weeks or months for your loved one to accept they have a hearing problem. And that’s okay! Let the conversations proceed at their own pace. One thing you don’t want to do is push your loved one into getting hearing aids before they’re prepared. If somebody won’t use their hearing aids, they don’t do much good after all.

Pick The Right Time

When your loved one is by themselves and calm would be the most appropriate time. If you pick a time when other people are around you may draw too much attention to your loved one’s hearing problems and they could 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 take part in the conversation.

Be Clear And Direct in Your Approach

It’s best not to be vague and unclear about your concerns. Be direct: “Lets’s have a conversation about your hearing mom”. Mention situations where they’ve insisted people are mumbling, had a hard time following tv programs or asked people to repeat what they said. Rather than talking about your loved one’s hearing itself, talk about the impact of hearing problems on their day-to-day life. For instance, “I’ve observed that you don’t socialize as often with your friends, and I wonder if your hearing problem has something to do with that”.

Acknowledge Their Concerns And Underlying Fears

Hearing loss often corresponds to a broader fear of losing independence, specifically for older adults confronted with physical frailty or other age-related changes. Be compassionate and attempt to recognize where your loved one is coming from if they resist the idea that they have hearing impairment. Acknowledge how hard this conversation can be. Waite until later if the conversation begins to go south.

Provide Help With Further Action

The most successful discussions about hearing loss occur when both people work together to take the next steps. 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. Offer your assistance to make the change as smooth as possible. 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 issues may help individuals who feel sensitive or embarrassed about their hearing loss.

Know That The Process Doesn’t Stop With Hearing Aids

So your loved one decided to see us and get hearing aids. Great! But the process doesn’t end there. It takes time to adjust to hearing aids. Your loved one has new sounds to process, new devices to take care of, and maybe some old habits to forget. During this period of adjustment, be an advocate. If your family member is dissatisfied 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.