If you have noticed that a loved one has been struggling to hear, it can be difficult or frustrating for them as well as the people around them. While there is incredible hearing technology that can more or less solve the problem for most people, some are resistant. If you have a loved one who was once better connected to the world, you might be wondering what you can do to help them see just how much they can benefit from the latest in hearing technology!
Research the Facts
There is a wealth of information online about hearing loss and hearing aids. While you’ll find plenty of information about the increased risk of loneliness, depression, cognitive decline and dementia, we suggest you focus on the positives! There are many technological options out there that can improve your loved one’s life, rather than simply prevent negative outcomes.
For example, did you know that 95% of people who get hearing aids report being satisfied with them, when asked after one year? They also report overwhelmingly that hearing aids have improved their social relationships, and their relationships with spouses and loved ones. They say that the memory trouble they had before they got hearing aids subsided once they started wearing them, and they even have a greater sense of optimism about themselves and the world in general! Hearing aids allow us to feel safe going out in the world, and so people who wear them tend to get more exercise and spend more time outdoors. The list goes on!
Being able to point to some of these facts when you sit down with your loved one might help them see how they can open up to the idea that hearing aids will be an enjoyable part of life!
Pick a Good Time and Place
If your loved one is struggling with untreated hearing loss, trying to have a conversation about it in a crowded, noisy space might not be a good idea. Hearing loss is distracting and exhausting, and you want to have a successful conversation, not wear them out! Pay attention to a few key things to help them focus on the conversation with as little strain as possible.
Choose a quiet place for the meeting, whether it’s your house or a quieter public space. Any background sound will make things more difficult, so try to seat yourselves away from air conditioning units, buzzing refrigerators, background music or televisions, or any other noise sources.
Sit facing each other. As hearing loss sets in, people start to read lips, and speaking directly toward them will help them catch more of what you’re saying, both visually and audibly. Make sure the area is well-lit.
Talk About Your Experiences
Couples therapists often instruct their clients to make “I” statements. That is, instead of making statements that might put your loved one on the defensive, such as “You always…” or “You never…”, it could be more productive to rephrase and speak about your experiences.
For example, you could say “I’ve noticed that when we watch TV, the volume is very high.” You might mention to your loved one about the ways you have been affected, such as “When the volume is very high, I am unable to enjoy the movie.” If there have been times where hearing loss caused a problem, you can mention it, but keep the discussion focused on yourself and your experience, rather than telling them about what they’re doing. The idea is to get them to open up to the possibility that hearing aids will help them live more easily, not to shame them into relenting.
Listen to Them
It’s likely that your loved one has noticed a change and is dealing with some fear and anxiety about it. They may appreciate the opportunity to talk about what the experience is like for them, once it’s been established that they are safe to discuss it with you. Let them talk without interrupting or correcting them. Try to ask open-ended questions about what’s been going on and how they’re adjusting.
Offer Support and Encouragement
Hearing loss is frequently an isolating experience, making us feel cut off from those around us. Your loved one is likely to appreciate that you cared enough to sit down with them and let them speak about these changes in their life. You can offer to accompany or drive them to a hearing test, and tell them you’re there to support them in any way you can.
The hearing test is the first step to getting a set of hearing aids and being able to hear the world again! This could be an exciting step for your loved one that allows them to participate in conversation freely once again, and enjoy the benefits of hearing that they once knew. Helping someone to improve their life is what we’re all about, and we’re here to help when you’re ready!