How to talk to a loved one about their hearing loss.
Talking with a family member about their untreated hearing loss can be a tough conversation. You don’t want to make them angry, you just want what is best for them.
When talking with a family member about their untreated hearing loss, they may get defensive about it. They may also deny they have a hearing loss and blame outside factors such as “Everyone mumbles these days,” “People just talk too fast,” “People don’t speak up or enunciate,” or they may even say “I only have trouble hearing you.”
To decrease your loved one being defensive, try using “I” statements.’ An “I” statement is a communication strategy that focuses on the speaker’s feelings rather than those of the person receiving their message. This is less accusatory, and it allows for the actual issue at hand to be addressed.
Examples of a few “I” statements you can use:
Instead of: “You can’t hear the kids call out to you if they need help”
Try: “I get nervous that the kids won’t be heard calling out for help if something happens.”
Instead of: “You can’t hear cars behind you when you go for walks.”
Try: “I’m very afraid for your safety because the sounds of the cars around you are being missed when you go for walks”
Instead of: “Everyone needs to repeat themselves because you can’t hear what they are saying”
Try: “Pete and I get pretty frustrated that we need to repeat ourselves so often.”
After expressing your concerns, encourage your loved one to get their hearing evaluated. Sometimes, people feel overwhelmed by doing things by themselves, so let them know that you can help. You can offer to make an appointment at Lemme Audiology by calling (814) 941-7770 for a hearing evaluation for them. Because our Audiologists appreciate when their patients bring someone along to the appointment with them, you can also offer to attend the visit with them. Together, you and your loved one can also compile a list of questions to ask the Audiologist during the visit. Our Audiologists will make certain no question is left unanswered and you both have all the information you need about their hearing loss and hearing better with hearing aids.
Your loved one may not like the idea of getting hearing aids in general. You can help redirect their negative thoughts of wearing a hearing aid by talking about the positive aspects of hearing aids. Prescription hearing aids will allow them to understand conversations more easily as well as their surroundings. Hearing aids have also been proven to slow cognitive decline and reduce the risk of accidental falls. You can also use those “I” statements again by saying something like “I will feel so much better and more relaxed knowing that you will be able to hear better.”
Yes, having a conversation with a loved one about their hearing loss may be tough, but since you only want the best for them, it’s a conversation that needs to be had. Remind them that they have nothing to lose by just having their hearing evaluated and finding out what options are available.