How to Communicate With a Loved One About Hearing Impairment

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

When your mother is always several seconds too late to laugh at the punchline of a joke or your father quits talking on the phone because it’s too difficult to hear, it is time to talk about hearing aids. Even though a quarter of people aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent of individuals over age 75 have noticeable hearing loss, getting them to accept their difficulties can be another matter altogether. Hearing frequently declines slowly, meaning that many people might not even recognize how profoundly their day-to-day hearing has changed. Even if they do recognize it, acknowledging that they need hearing aids can be a huge step. If you want to make that conversation easier and more successful, observe the following advice.

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

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

Before having the conversation, take some time to think about what you will say and how your loved one will react. When planning, it’s recommended to frame this as a process as opposed to one conversation. Your loved one may take weeks or months of conversations to accept hearing loss. And that’s okay! Let the conversation have a natural flow. One thing you don’t want to do is push your loved one into getting hearing aids before they’re prepared. If somebody refuses to use their hearing aids, they don’t do much good after all.

Choose Your Moment

When your loved one is alone and calm would be the best time. Holidays or large get-togethers can be demanding and might draw more attention to your family member’s hearing problems, making them sensitive to any perceived attack. 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.

Be Clear And Direct in Your Approach

It’s best not to be vague and ambiguous about your worries. Be direct: “Lets’s have a conversation about your hearing mom”. Provide clear examples of symptoms you’ve recognized, such as having a hard time following tv shows asking people to repeat themselves, complaining that others mumble, or missing information in important conversations. Focus on how your loved one’s hearing issues effect their daily life rather than talking about their hearing itself. 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

For older adults who are more frail and face age-related difficulties in particular hearing loss is often linked to a broader fear of loss of independence. If your loved one is reluctant to talk about hearing aids or denies the problem, try to understand where he or she is coming from. Let them know that you recognize how hard this discussion can be. If the discussion begins to go south, wait until a different time.

Provide Help With Further Action

When both people work together you will have the most successful discussion about hearing impairment. The process of purchasing hearing aids can be extremely daunting and that might be one reason why they are so reluctant. Offer your help to make the transition as smooth as you can. Print out and rehearse before you talk. You can also call us 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 End With Hearing Aids

So your talks were compelling and your loved one has agreed to explore hearing aids. Fantastic! But the process doesn’t stop there. Adapting to life with hearing aids takes some time. Your loved one has to deal with a new device, new sounds and has to develop new habits. Be an advocate during this adjustment time. Take seriously any issues your family member may have with their new hearing aids.

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.