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

You know it’s time to start talking over hearing aids when your dad quits using the phone because he has a hard time hearing or your mom always laughs late to the punchline of a joke. Although a quarter of people aged 65 to 74 and half of people over the age of 75 have noticeable hearing loss, getting them to accept their troubles can be another matter altogether. Most people won’t even notice how much their hearing has changed because it worsens gradually. Even if they do recognize it, acknowledging that they need hearing aids can be a big step. If you want to make that discussion easier and more successful, observe the following advice.

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

View it as a Process, Not One Conversation

When planning to have a conversation about a family member’s hearing loss, you have lots of time to think about what you will say and how the person might react. 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 admit to hearing loss. And that’s okay! Let the conversation have a natural flow. 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 somebody refuses to wear them.

Pick The Right Time

Decide on a time when your loved one is relaxed and alone. If you go with a time when other people are around you may draw too much attention to your loved one’s hearing loss and they might feel like they’re being ganged up on and attacked. A one-on-one conversation with no background noise also helps ensure that your loved one hears you correctly and can participate in the conversation.

Take a Clear And Straightforward Approach

Now is not the time to beat around the bush with vague pronouncements about your worries. Be direct: “Lets’s have a discussion about your hearing mom”. Emphasize situations where they’ve insisted people are mumbling, had a difficult time hearing tv shows or asked people to repeat themselves. Rather than emphasizing your loved one’s hearing itself, focus on the effect of hearing issues on their everyday life. You could say something like “You aren’t going 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 often corresponds to a larger fear of losing independence, particularly for older adults facing physical frailty or other age-related changes. If your loved one is resistant to talk about hearing aids or denies the issues, attempt to understand where he or she is coming from. Acknowledge how hard this conversation can be. If the conversation starts to go south, table it until a different time.

Offer Next Steps

The most productive conversations about hearing loss occur when both parties work together to make the right decisions. Part of your loved one’s resistance to admit to hearing loss may be that he or she feels overwhelmed about the process of getting 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 take your loved one’s insurance before they call. Information about the commonness of hearing problems might help people who feel sensitive or ashamed about their hearing loss.

Know That The Process Doesn’t End With Hearing Aids

So your talks were convincing and your loved one has agreed to explore hearing aids. Great! But the process doesn’t end there. Adjusting to life with hearing aids will take time. Your loved one has new sounds to manage, new devices to care for, and perhaps some old habits to unlearn. During this cycle of adjustment, be an advocate. Take seriously any concerns your family member might have with their new hearing aids.

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