Tips on How to Approach a Loved One About Their Hearing Loss

Approaching a loved one about their hearing loss can be a sensitive matter, but there are some steps that you can take to make sure that the conversation goes as smoothly as possible. No one knows your loved one better than you do. Saying that, no one knows how to prepare better than you in regards to having a difficult conversation with them. You know what they are more susceptible to, whether it is a certain fact or endearment. Here are some of those topics of conversation that might come up and how to have the most positive conversation possible. 

Do your research.

  • Benefits- Mention the benefits to having a hearing aid, such as,  2018 study from the University of Michigan found that older adults who wear hearing aids are less likely to go to the hospital or emergency room and are at a lower risk of dementia, depression, and falls. In a Hear the World Foundation survey of more than 4,000 people, 70 percent of respondents said that hearing aids improved their relationships.
  • Price check- Have the numbers ready for a point of reference as soon as cost is mentioned. The average price is about $2,300 per unit (that’s just one device, so be prepared to double that if you need two), and Medicare does not cover hearing aids. According to AARP, “The average lifespan for hearing aids is five to eight years. Some quick math: A pair of $4,600 hearing aids worn 12 months a year for, say, five years comes out to about $75 a month, or about $2.50 a day.”
  • Know the options- Fitting hearing aids is a custom process, much like any modern technology. Some can be adjusted via apps on smartphones or on wireless devices without the hassle of going to the audiologist. Other features like fitness tracking, high-tech house calls, and fall alert can be added to hearing aid packages. 
  • Name drop- Many famous people like Whoopi Goldberg, Jodie Foster, Pete Townshend, and Bill Clinton wear hearing aids proudly. 

Adjust your communication style.

  • First and foremost, be empathetic- Aging is not fun for anyone. No one wants to age and we can often be in denial because of this desire to remain young. 
  • Give your perspective- Allow your loved one to know how their hearing personally affects you and/or your family. Many times families and friends learn to adapt to someone’s hearing problems, only prolonging the issue and often create more issues. Be open about the effects by having detailed, concrete examples of when their hearing loss has been an issue so that they can understand your point of view.
  • Be on their side- Offer your assistance in going to the audiologist with your loved one. Allow them to know that they always have you in their corner, and that they are not alone in this matter. 
  • Bargain with them- If things are seemingly not going well with the conversation, you can use the tactic of bargaining. Meaning you can say, “I will do X, (Get that colonoscopy you’ve been putting off, or simply going to your doctor for a check-up) if you do Y.” This proves that you are willing to work on your health, as much as you are willing to help them with their health. 

You know what your loved one values the most. Be sure to lean into that and allow them to understand that what you want is only what is best for them. If they are still hesitant, don’t be afraid to pull on the heart strings. Express the benefits of both your loved one and you/your family. Remind them that family is always in it together and hearing loss is no different. 

Take the National Hearing Test by telephone today! It’s free to AARP members, $8 for nonmembers.

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