When your mother is always a couple of seconds too late to react to the punchline of a joke or your father quits talking on the phone because it’s too hard to hear, it’s 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, getting them to acknowledge their difficulties can be another matter entirely. Most individuals won’t even notice how much their hearing has changed because it declines gradually. And even if they are aware of their hearing loss, it can be a big step getting them to accept they need hearing aids. The following guidance can help you frame your discussion to make sure it hits the right tone.
How to Consider Hearing Aids With a Loved One
View it as a Process, Not One Conversation
When preparing to have a dialogue about a family member’s hearing impairment, you have a lot of time to think about what you will say and how the person might respond. When getting ready, it’s helpful to frame this as a process instead of one conversation. Your loved one may take weeks or months of talks to acknowledge hearing loss. And that’s okay! Let the conversation have a natural flow. You really need to hold off until your loved one is really comfortable with the idea before going ahead. If someone refuses to use their hearing aids, they don’t do much good after all.
Pick The Appropriate Time
When your loved one is by themselves 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 may feel like they’re being ganged up on and attacked. To make sure that your loved one hears you correctly and can actively engage in the conversation, a quiet one-on-one is the best plan.
Take a Clear And Straightforward Approach
It’s best not to be vague and ambiguous about your concerns. Be direct: “Lets’s have a discussion about your hearing mom”. Offer well-defined examples of symptoms you’ve observed, such as having difficulty hearing television shows asking people to repeat themselves, insisting that people mumble, or missing information in important conversations. Rather than focusing on your loved one’s hearing itself, talk about the effect of hearing issues on their day-to-day life. You could say something like “You don’t seem to go 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 often associated with 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 impairment. Acknowledge how difficult this discussion can be. If the conversation begins to go south, wait until a different time.
Offer Next Steps
The most successful discussions about hearing loss take place when both parties work together to take the next steps. Part of your loved one’s resistance to admit to hearing loss may be that he or she feels overwhelmed about the process of purchasing hearing aids. 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. Information about the commonness of hearing issues may help people who feel sensitive or ashamed about their hearing problems.
Realize That Hearing Aids Aren’t The End of The Process
So your loved one decided to see us and get hearing aids. Great! But there’s more to it than that. It takes time to adjust 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.