What’s The Best Way to Talk About Hearing Impairment With a Loved One?

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 difficult time hearing or your mom always reacts late to the punchline of a joke. Even though a quarter of people aged 65 to 74 and half of people over age 75 have noticeable hearing loss, it can be an altogether different matter getting them to acknowledge their hearing problems. Hearing often worsens little by little, meaning that many people may not even realize how significantly their everyday hearing has changed. Even if they do know it, recognizing that they need hearing aids can be a big step. The following guidance can help you frame your conversation to ensure it hits the right note.

How to Tell a Loved One That They Need Hearing Aids

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

Before having the discussion, take the time to think about what you will say and how your loved one will react. When planning, it’s helpful to frame this as a process rather than a single 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 discussions continue at their own pace. You really need to hold off until your loved one is very comfortable with the idea before proceeding. After all, hearing aids don’t do any good if someone refuses to wear them.

Pick The Appropriate Time

Pick a time when your loved one is relaxed and by themselves. Holidays or large gatherings can be stressful and might draw more attention to your family member’s hearing issues, making them sensitive to any imagined attack. A one-on-one conversation with no background noise also ensures that your loved one hears you correctly and can take part in the conversation.

Be Open And Direct in Your Approach

It’s best not to be vague and unclear about your concerns. Be direct: “Lets’s have a discussion about your hearing mom”. Give well-defined examples of symptoms you’ve recognized, like having a hard time following tv shows asking people to repeat themselves, insisting that others mumble, or missing information in important conversations. Rather than emphasizing your loved one’s hearing itself, talk about the impact of hearing issues on their daily life. For example, “I’ve noticed that you don’t spend as much time with your friends, and I wonder if your hearing issue might be the reason for that”.

Be Sensitive to Their Underlying Fears And Concerns

Hearing loss frequently corresponds to a broader fear of losing independence, specifically for older adults dealing with physical frailty or other age-related changes. If your loved one is resistant to talk about hearing aids or denies the problem, attempt to understand where he or she is coming from. Acknowledge how difficult this conversation can be. Waite until later if the conversation begins to go south.

Provide Help With Further Action

The most productive conversations about hearing loss occur when both people work together to make the right decisions. The process of buying hearing aids can be very overwhelming and that might be one reason why they are so reluctant. Provide your help to make the change as smooth as you can. Before you have that conversation, print out our information. 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 people who feel sensitive or embarrassed about their hearing loss.

Realize That Hearing Aids Aren’t The End of The Process

So your loved one agreed to consult 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. Be an advocate during this adjustment time. If your family member is unhappy with the hearing aids, take those issues 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.