Last updated on Apr 21, 2018
“Dad, you barely talked during dinner and didn’t seem to enjoy spending time with the grandkids. Are you ok?”
With the holidays right around the corner, it may be time to have the big talk with your parents. Not the one about giving up the car keys or the one about moving into assisted living, but the critical one you should have before those to prolong their independence and quality of life. The conversation about hearing loss. What’s the best way to approach this sensitive topic? And what are the pros and cons to leaving hearing loss untreated?
Typically, people with hearing loss have lived with it for more than five years, and many have had challenges for more than 16 years. Hearing loss is about more than so-called “selective hearing”. It’s not that Dad intentionally ignores what’s being said, he’s just too stubborn and full of pride to admit it. That’s where a hearing test comes in.
Before you even sit down with your parents to discuss the touchy subject of hearing loss and the need for hearing aids, arm yourself with some basic knowledge. What is hearing loss? What can they expect during a hearing test? What do hearing aids do? How expensive are they? Affordable, doctor-designed, FDA-registered hearing aids are only a click away—once you sell your parents on the idea.
Now that you’ve established what to talk about, think about when and where. Pick a quiet place with limited background noise and no interruptions—no TV, no holiday music, no talk radio, or distracting football games. Come from a place of concern, not frustration and anger. You want the best for your parents and want them to feel heard and understood. Draw them into the conversation, don’t preach or lecture.
If you can, bring a tablet or laptop to share your online findings with your parents. Odds are, they’ll be relieved you did all the legwork. Don’t overwhelm them with information. Rather, share key points that support your case. After all, you’re on their side and want the best for them.
Give your parents time to process the information you’ve shared. Try to be on hand to take the next step with your parents when they are ready. Offer to go with them to a hearing test and help them compare hearing aid options.
Close your hearing aid conversation by pointing out all the benefits of better hearing. Being able to hear, listen, and understand are the cornerstones of communication. No more feeling left out, no more being isolated or depressed, no more being nagged and yelled at. Hearing aids will allow your parents to enjoy the sounds of their grandchildren laughing and playing in the next room, and allow them look forward to holiday parties, church gatherings, and family dinners. The ability to feel more secure while driving or even in their own home are all part of the positive outcomes of wearing hearing aids.
Be prepared to have this conversation more than once. Admitting one needs help can be difficult and scary, but empowering. Helping your parents maintain their independence is priceless and deeply rewarding. We’re here to help guide you and your parents through the hearing aid selection and purchasing process; trained hearing professionals are only a call or email away.