When your mother is always a couple of seconds too late to laugh at 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. 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 altogether. Most individuals 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 accept 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 One Conversation But a Process
Before having the conversation, take some time to consider what you will say and how your loved one will respond. When getting ready, it’s helpful to frame this as a process as opposed to a single conversation. It may take a series of discussions over weeks or months for your loved one to acknowledge they’re suffering from a hearing issue. There’s nothing wrong with that! Let the conversations proceed at a natural pace. You really need to wait until your loved one is very comfortable with the idea before going ahead. After all, hearing aids don’t do any good if someone won’t 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 might 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 take part in the conversation, a quiet one-on-one is the best plan.
Take a Clear And Direct Approach
Now isn’t the time to beat around the bush with vague pronouncements about your concerns. Be direct: “Lets’s have a talk about your hearing mom”. Provide well-defined examples of symptoms you’ve noticed, like having difficulty following tv programs asking people to repeat themselves, complaining that people mumble, or missing information in important conversations. Rather than emphasizing your loved one’s hearing itself, talk about the effect of hearing issues on their everyday life. For example, “I’ve noticed that you don’t spend as much time with your friends, and I wonder if your hearing issue has something to do with that”.
Acknowledge Their Concerns And Underlying Fears
For older adults who are more frail and deal with age-related challenges in particular hearing loss is often linked to a broader fear of loss of independence. Be compassionate and try to recognize where your loved one is coming from if they resist the idea that they have hearing impairment. Let them know that you recognize how hard this discussion can be. Waite until later if the conversation begins to go south.
Offer Next Steps
When both people cooperate you will have the most effective discussion about hearing impairment. The process of getting hearing aids can be extremely daunting and that may be one reason why they are so reluctant. In order to make the process as smooth as possible, offer to help. Print out and rehearse before you talk. You can also give us a call to see if we accept your loved one’s insurance. Some people may feel self-conscious 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 explore hearing aids. Great! But there’s more to it than that. Adjusting to life with hearing aids takes some time. Your loved one has new sounds to manage, new devices to take care of, and perhaps some old habits to forget. During this period of adjustment, be an advocate. If your family member is unhappy with the hearing aids, take those issues seriously.