How to Communicate With a Loved One About Hearing Impairment

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 stops talking on the phone because he has a tough time hearing or your mom always reacts late to the punchline of a joke. Although a quarter of people aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent of people over the age of 75 have detectable hearing loss, getting them to acknowledge their difficulties can be another matter altogether. Hearing usually worsens slowly, meaning that many individuals might not even realize how significantly their day-to-day hearing has changed. And even if they are cognizant of their hearing loss, it can be a big step getting them to acknowledge they need hearing aids. The following guidance can help you frame your conversation to make sure it hits the right tone.

How to Tell a Loved One That They Need Hearing Aids

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

Before having the conversation, take the time to think about what you will say and how your loved one will react. As you think about this, remember that it will be a process not one conversation. Your loved one might take weeks or months of conversations to acknowledge hearing loss. And that’s fine! 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. If a person won’t wear their hearing aids, they don’t do much good after all.

Find Your Moment

Pick a time when your loved one is relaxed and by themselves. If you choose 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. 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 unclear about your concerns. Be direct: “Mom, I’d like to talk to you concerning your hearing”. Emphasize situations where they’ve insisted people are mumbling, had a difficult time following tv shows or asked people to repeat what they said. Rather than emphasizing your loved one’s hearing itself, focus on the impact of hearing problems on their day-to-day life. For instance, “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 often 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 issues, try to understand where he or she is coming from. Let them know that you understand how hard this conversation can be. Waite until later if the conversation begins to go south.

Offer Next Steps

The most successful discussions about hearing loss occur when both parties work together to take the next steps. The process of buying hearing aids can be very daunting and that could be one reason why they are so reluctant. Provide your help to make the transition as smooth as possible. Print out and rehearse before you talk. You can also give us a call 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.

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

So your loved one consented to consult us and get hearing aids. Fantastic! But there’s more to it than that. Adapting to life with hearing aids takes some time. Your loved one has to deal with a new device, new sounds and has to create new habits. During this cycle of adjustment, be an advocate. If your family member is unhappy with the hearing aids, take those concerns 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.


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