How to Talk to a Loved One About Hearing Loss

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

When your mother is always several seconds too late to react to 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 hearing loss is noticeable in a quarter of people between the ages of 65 and 74 and 50% of individuals over 75, it can be an entirely different matter getting them to recognize their hearing issues. Hearing usually worsens gradually, meaning that many individuals might not even recognize how profoundly their everyday hearing has changed. Even if they do recognize it, recognizing 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

View it as a Process, Not a Single 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. When planning, it’s helpful to frame this as a process as opposed to a single conversation. It may take a number of conversations over weeks or months for your loved one to admit they have a hearing problem. And that’s okay! Let the conversations continue at a natural pace. The last thing you want to do is force your loved one into getting hearing aids before they’re prepared. If someone refuses to wear their hearing aids, they don’t do much good after all.

Find Your Moment

Decide on a time when your loved one is calm and alone. Holidays or large gatherings can be demanding and could draw more attention to your family member’s hearing problems, making them hypersensitive to any perceived attack. To ensure that your loved one hears you correctly and can actively participate in the conversation, a quiet one-on-one is the best idea.

Take a Clear And Straightforward Approach

Now isn’t the time to beat around the bush with obscure statements about your concerns. Be direct: “Mom, I’d like to speak with you about your hearing”. Provide well-defined examples of symptoms you’ve noticed, like having difficulty following television shows asking people to repeat themselves, insisting that others mumble, or missing information in important conversations. Talk about how your loved one’s hearing problems impact their day to day life instead of emphasizing 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

Hearing loss frequently corresponds to a larger fear of losing independence, specifically for older adults facing physical frailty or other age-related changes. If your loved one is reluctant to talk about hearing aids or denies the problem, try to understand his or her point of view. Acknowledge how difficult this conversation can be. If the conversation starts to go south, wait until a different time.

Provide Help With Further Action

The most effective discussions about hearing loss happen when both parties work together to take the next steps. The process of buying hearing aids can be extremely overwhelming and that might be one reason why they are so hesitant. In order to make the process as smooth as possible, offer to help. Before you talk, 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 might help people who feel sensitive or embarrassed about their hearing loss.

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

So your talks were persuasive and your loved one has agreed to explore hearing aids. Great! But there’s more to it than that. It takes time to adapt to hearing aids. Your loved one has to cope with a new device, new sounds and has to create new habits. During this period of adjustment, be an advocate. Take seriously any issues your family member might 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.