It can be a difficult and painful conversation for some. Admitting changes to hearing can bring up fears or discomforts of aging, it can also be challenging to accept help with something they didn’t need help with at a younger age. With these considerations in mind, approaching your loved one regarding hearing loss should be handled with empathy and care.

Signs that your loved one is experiencing hearing loss

If you have already noticed signs of hearing loss with your loved one, it’s a good idea to start making a list of specific examples. When you approach the conversation with your loved one, if needed, you will be able to provide specific examples that help explain why you are talking to them about their hearing.

  • Struggling to understand- If you have ever heard your loved one say “I can hear you, I just can’t understand you”, know that this is a common statement made by those with hearing loss. Because hearing loss, especially age-related hearing loss, tends to impact higher frequencies of sound first, words can sound jumbled making understanding more difficult. 
  • Isolation- Another common sign of hearing loss is the avoidance of social interactions. This can be family gatherings, eating at restaurants, or even avoiding important doctor appointments. When hearing others becomes more challenging, it is common for people to avoid those scenarios altogether. They may also start to avoid phone conversations.

Approaching your loved one about their hearing loss

Before you approach your loved one about their hearing loss, it’s a good idea to have a plan. Make sure to consider the time and place for the conversation, one that is private and allows for the sensitive nature that the topic can be. Also, consider your loved one and what works for them. How do they handle new information? Do they like research or personal experience?

  • Begin statements with “I”– You may have heard this before and that’s because it’s an important communication tool. Beginning sensitive sentences with “you” often feels more aggressive than it is meant to. By starting the conversation with “I’ve noticed” rather than “You are doing this”, you can help your loved one receive the information better.
  • Don’t get angry– While your loved one may be resistant to the topic at first, which can be frustrating, it’s important to not escalate the conversation to an argument. 
  • Address their concerns– Ask them how they feel about a hearing test or possible treatment. Be supportive while addressing their fears or concerns. Note that even talking to a hearing health provider, or audiologist, makes you able to answer more of their questions.
  • Take two– It’s possible that you will need to have this conversation a few times before it starts to sink in for your loved one. Be patient and positive but persistent. 
  • Offer to get a hearing test with them– It is actually recommended that all adults get a hearing test regardless of any symptoms of hearing loss. Making an appointment for the whole family to get a hearing test together is a great way to take some of the pressure off your loved one. 
  • Research– If your loved one likes science or research based information, there are studies that link untreated hearing loss to an increase in dementia and cognitive decline. Furthermore, hearing loss has shown to correlate with an increase in isolation and depression risks as well. Treating hearing loss can actually help both physical and mental health. 
  • Emphasize independence– If your loved one is uncomfortable with aging and loss of independence, mention that treating hearing loss can actually be a great tool to increase their independence. Giving them the tools they need to communicate as they used to before hearing loss in every situation can improve overall function and health.

Ultimately, age-related hearing loss is a sensitive topic of conversation for many people. How you approach the conversation can have a big impact on how your loved one reacts to it. Presenting information in a calm, supportive, and logical manner is the best way to ensure a positive result. 

If you or a loved one are experiencing any changes to your hearing or you want to make a “family appointment” as described above, contact us today to set up a hearing test.