5 Tips For Talking To Loved Ones About Hearing Loss
It’s never easy to admit when we have a problem, and that’s especially true when it comes to age-related hearing loss. For those affected, it’s common to experience a wide range of emotions including anger, grief and denial.
Here are 5 important tips for talking to loved ones about hearing loss.
Choose the right place and time.
One of the worst things you can do is blurt out something insensitive in a moment of frustration. Instead, plan ahead and choose a quiet, comfortable location with plenty of privacy. Plan on setting aside at least a few hours for the first discussion – so you and your loved one can have plenty of time to talk without interruption.
Be respectful and positive.
When the conversation begins, emphasize how much you care about your loved one. Explain calmly how you’ve noticed them showing signs of hearing loss. Try phrases such as, “I am concerned about how often you ask everyone to repeat themselves,” and “It would make ME feel better if you had your hearing checked.” To ensure the conversation goes well, they must feel supported – not attacked.
Don’t assume they know.
This may seem hard to believe, but age-related hearing loss can be so gradual that your loved one might not notice they’ve had to turn the TV up louder to hear, or that they’re becoming fatigued from trying to follow conversations. A good conversation starter could be something you’ve noticed. For example, "I’ve noticed that you need the TV on very loud," or “I’ve noticed that you haven’t been able to hear as well on the telephone lately.”
Do your homework.
Do your homework before the conversation, so you can be prepared with helpful information for your loved ones. Learn more about the age-related hearing loss and the emotions and challenges that come with it. Make a list of audiologists in your area. Read up on other tips for having difficult conversations with loved ones. The more you can prepare yourself, the better your conversation will be.
Offer to help with next steps.
Finally, make a plan for what happens AFTER your first conversation about hearing loss. If the time is right, suggest next steps – such as making an appointment to see an audiologist. Remember your loved one might be nervous about seeking treatment. Assure them they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Treating hearing loss positively affects physical and mental health.