How to Communicate With a Loved One About Hearing Impairment

Woman showing her mother information about hearing loss and hearing aids in the kitchen.

You know it’s time to begin talking over 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. Even though hearing loss is detectable in a quarter of individuals from 65 yo74 and 50% of individuals over 75, getting them to acknowledge their troubles can be another matter altogether. Most people won’t even detect how much their hearing has changed because it declines little by little. And even if they are cognizant of their hearing loss, it can be a big step having them to acknowledge they need hearing aids. The following advice can help you frame your conversation to make sure it hits the right tone.

How to Explain to a Loved One That They Need Hearing Aids

Recognize That it Won’t be One Conversation But a Process

When planning to have a conversation about a family member’s hearing impairment, 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 discussion. Your loved one may take weeks or months of talks to acknowledge hearing loss. There isn’t anything wrong with that! Let the discussions continue at their own pace. You really need to wait until your loved one is very comfortable with the idea before proceeding. If somebody refuses to wear their hearing aids, they don’t do much good after all.

Choose Your Moment

Choose a time when your loved one is calm and alone. Holidays or large gatherings can be demanding and might draw more attention to your family member’s hearing problems, making them sensitive to any imagined attack. A one-on-one conversation with no background noise also helps ensure that your loved one hears you correctly and can engage in the conversation.

Take a Clear And Direct Approach

Now is not the time to beat around the bush with obscure statements about your worries. Be direct: “Lets’s have a discussion about your hearing mom”. Emphasize circumstances where they’ve insisted people are mumbling, had a difficult time hearing tv programs or asked people to repeat what they said. Focus on how your loved one’s hearing issues effect their day-to-day life instead of focusing on their hearing itself. 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 hard time hearing them?”.

Be Sensitive to Their Underlying Fears And Concerns

Hearing loss frequently corresponds to a larger fear of losing independence, particularly for older adults dealing with physical frailty or other age-related changes. Be compassionate and attempt to understand where your loved one is coming from if they are resistant to the idea that they have hearing loss. Let them know that you understand how hard this discussion can be. If the conversation starts to go south, table it until a later time.

Offer Next Steps

The most productive discussions about hearing loss take place when both people work together to take the next steps. The process of buying hearing aids can be very daunting and that might be one reason why they are so hesitant. Offer your support to make the transition 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 people who feel sensitive or ashamed about their hearing loss.

Know That The Process Doesn’t Stop With Hearing Aids

So your loved one decided to consult us and get hearing aids. Fantastic! But the process doesn’t end there. 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 cycle 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.