Hearing loss doesn’t only affect the person who has it. While it can be frustrating and frightening for them, it also poses miscommunications and challenges for those who are close to them. Sometimes a person with hearing loss may be in denial, while everyone around them can see how much their hearing loss affects their lives. We may wish to have a conversation that leads to treatment for their hearing loss, but we don’t want them to become defensive. The guidelines below may help us to have a more productive conversation when the time is right.
Choose the Right Time and Place
It’s tempting to bring up hearing loss in the moment that a misunderstanding has occurred, but this can easily lead to an argument. As much as we may want to use a misunderstanding as proof that their hearing loss is causing issues, we are more likely to have a productive conversation in a scenario in which our loved one can speak more freely about their experience and reach their own conclusions.
Accordingly, we should stage this conversation in a place where there is no background noise and there is plenty of light. We want our loved one to be able to understand what we’re saying as clearly as possible, so we want to set the scene such that they can clearly see our face in order to read lips. Speaking to them with a line of sight will also help our voice carry as best as it possibly can.
Do Your Research
There are plenty of good reasons to get hearing aids! There is a great deal of information online about what hearing aids can do to make our lives—and relationships—better, as well as the dangers of untreated hearing loss. Have a few facts and statistics ready when you talk with your loved one about getting hearing aids to help them see the good they’ve done for others.
Describe Your Experience, Then Let Them Talk
It’s very likely your loved one is aware that they have a hearing problem by this point. Bring up an occasion or two when their hearing loss caused a problem for you, or when you noticed it causing a problem for them. Ask them if they’ve been experiencing any problems with their hearing, and let them talk without interrupting, before bringing up hearing aids and some of the facts you’ve researched.
Acknowledge their concerns. People sometimes imagine that hearing aids will make them feel old, or that they’re not ready for them yet. The truth of the matter is that hearing aids help us to live the lives we want—rather than having to work around our hearing loss—and we should start treating hearing loss as soon as hearing aids are recommended by a hearing care professional. But it’s important not to force these perspectives on our loved one. Let them come to see the truth with some gentle assistance.
Offer Your Assistance
Your loved one may have reservations about the prospect of having to make decisions related to hearing loss treatment or keep appointments and make travel arrangements. Offer to help them through the process. This might include making the appointment for them, driving to it, and accompanying them through their hearing exam and hearing aid consultation. Two heads remember more than one, so it’s always a good idea to have a buddy!
If hearing loss is an issue for your loved one, having an appropriate conversation about it at the right time and place can make all the difference in their willingness to pursue treatment. Hearing loss can be a challenging experience, and knowing that someone cares enough to hear what we have to say about it can be a big relief. Good luck, and we hope to see you soon at your loved one’s hearing test appointment!