How to Talk to 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 a few seconds too late to laugh at the punchline of a joke or your father quits talking on the phone because it’s too tough to hear, it is time to talk about hearing aids. Although a quarter of individuals aged 65 to 74 and half of individuals over the age of 75 have detectable hearing loss, it can be an altogether different matter getting them to acknowledge their hearing issues. Most individuals won’t even notice how much their hearing has changed because it worsens gradually. 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 Explain to a Loved One That They Need Hearing Aids

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

When preparing to have a discussion about a family member’s hearing impairment, 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 rather than a single conversation. Your loved one might take weeks or months of conversations to acknowledge hearing loss. There isn’t anything wrong with that! Let the discussions proceed at their own pace. You really need to wait until your loved one is really comfortable with the decision before proceeding. If someone refuses to use their hearing aids, they don’t do much good after all.

Find Your Moment

When your loved one is alone and calm would be the best time. 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 participate in the conversation.

Be Open And Direct in Your Approach

Now is not the time to beat around the bush with vague pronouncements about your worries. Be direct: “Mom, I’d like to talk to you concerning your hearing”. Present clear examples of symptoms you’ve recognized, like having a hard time following tv programs asking people to repeat themselves, insisting that others mumble, or missing information in important conversations. Rather than talking about your loved one’s hearing itself, talk about the effect of hearing problems on their daily life. For example, “I’ve noticed that you don’t socialize as often with your friends, and I wonder if your hearing problem might be the reason for that”.

Be Sensitive to Their Underlying Fears And Concerns

For older adults who are weaker and face age-related challenges in particular hearing loss is often linked to a broader fear of loss of independence. If your loved one is resistant to talk about hearing aids or denies the problem, try to understand his or her point of view. Let them know that you recognize how hard this conversation can be. Waite until later if the conversation begins to go south.

Provide Help With Further Action

When both individuals work together you will have the most effective conversation about hearing loss. Part of your loved one’s reluctance to admit to hearing loss might be that he or she feels overwhelmed about the process of getting hearing aids. So that you can make the journey as smooth as possible, offer to help. 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. Some people might 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 loved one consented to consult us and get 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. Be an advocate during this adjustment time. Take seriously any concerns 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.