If you care for aging parents, you know that having tough conversations about health and wellness – including hearing loss – is inevitable.
Avoiding a discussion about your loved one’s hearing problem won’t help them. The sooner mom or dad addresses the issue, the sooner they can get treatment and preserve their remaining hearing.
Why Seniors Dread Hearing Loss
The decision to get hearing aids is a personal choice, and while there are many benefits, only 30% of people 70 and older use them. So, what’s the hang-up?
There may be several fears and misconceptions preventing your mom from getting hearing aids, including:
- Being told they have a “problem”
- Appearing “old”
- Losing independence
- Dreading the role reversal of caregiver
- Outdated ideas about hearing aid technology
Telling someone they have a condition that’s negatively impacting their life and the lives of others will likely elicit frustration, sadness, hesitation and possibly denial. However, broaching the subject appropriately may help your dad feel relieved about receiving treatment for his hearing loss.
Show Them the Big Picture
It’s important not to focus on your mom’s inability to hear but on how wearing hearing aids will improve her quality of life. And because hearing loss impacts more than the affected individual, that includes improved communication and better family dynamics.
Making the conversation about more than just him may help dad see beyond his hesitations. Talk with him about how hearing aids will help him feel present during family gatherings and meals around the dinner table.
Discuss the Benefits
Safety: Wearing hearing aids means mom won’t miss important sounds like emergency sirens, car horns, doorbells, phone calls and other important alerts.
Socializing: Better hearing improves social interactions, which lowers dad’s risk for isolation and, potentially, depression.
Cognitive function: There’s a strong connection between hearing loss and reduced cognitive function, so wearing hearing aids can also lower your loved one’s risk of developing memory loss.
Offer Your Support
It’s essential to provide emotional encouragement while discussing your loved one’s hearing loss. Your mom may feel unsure about going to an audiologist, so accompanying her to appointments is a great way to show your support.
Have your hearing checked as well. Doing so will show dad that you’re willing to go through the process with him each step of the way.
Most importantly, be a good listener. Dismissing your senior’s feelings and opinions about hearing loss will make them feel invalidated and may discourage them from seeking treatment.