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 begin discussing hearing aids when your dad quits using the phone because he has a difficult time hearing or your mom always laughs late to the punchline of a joke. Although hearing loss is noticeable in a quarter of individuals between the ages of 65 and 74 and 50% of individuals over 75, it can be an altogether different matter getting them to acknowledge their hearing problems. Most individuals won’t even detect how much their hearing has changed because it worsens slowly. And even if they are cognizant of their hearing loss, it can be a big step getting them to acknowledge they need hearing aids. If you want to make that discussion easier and more productive, observe the following guidance.

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

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

When preparing to have a conversation about a family member’s hearing loss, you have lots of time to ponder what you will say and how the person may respond. When preparing, it’s recommended to frame this as a process as opposed to a single conversation. It may take a series of discussions over weeks or months for your loved one to acknowledge they have a hearing issue. And that’s okay! Let the conversations proceed at a natural pace. You really need to hold off until your loved one is really comfortable with the decision before proceeding. After all, hearing aids don’t do any good if someone refuses to wear them.

Pick The Appropriate Time

When your loved one is by themselves and relaxed would be the most appropriate time. If you choose a time when other people are around you might draw too much attention to your loved one’s hearing loss and they may feel like they’re being ganged up on and attacked. A one-on-one talk with no background noise also helps ensure that your loved one hears you correctly and can engage in the conversation.

Take a Clear And Direct Approach

Now isn’t the time to beat around the bush with obscure pronouncements about your concerns. Be direct: “Lets’s have a discussion about your hearing mom”. Present clear examples of symptoms you’ve observed, like having a hard time following tv programs asking people to repeat themselves, complaining that people mumble, or missing content in important conversations. Focus on how your loved one’s hearing issues effect their day-to-day life rather than talking about their hearing itself. For example, “I’ve observed that you don’t socialize as often 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 impairment frequently corresponds to a broader fear of losing independence, particularly for older adults dealing with physical frailty or other age-related changes. Be compassionate and try to understand where your loved one is coming from if they resist the idea that they have hearing loss. Let them know that you recognize how difficult this discussion can be. If the conversation begins to go south, wait until a later time.

Offer Next Steps

The most successful discussions about hearing loss happen when both parties work together to take the next steps. Part of your loved one’s resistance to admit to hearing loss might be that he or she feels overwhelmed about the process of purchasing hearing aids. Provide your support to make the change as smooth as you can. 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.

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

So your talks were compelling and your loved one has agreed to explore hearing aids. Great! But the process doesn’t stop there. It takes time to adapt to hearing aids. Your loved one has to deal with a new device, new sounds and has to establish new habits. Be an advocate during this adjustment time. If your family member is unhappy with the hearing aids, take those issues 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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