Talking to your loved one about their hearing loss can be difficult. But sharing your feelings — and understanding theirs — can go a long way in helping them take the first steps towards finding the hearing solution that’s right for them.
Many people have anxiety that hearing loss will mean losing a piece of themselves that they can’t get back. Identifying the problem allows for establishing a solution that gives them more control over their situation. Family members who suspect that loved ones are dealing with hearing loss may have noticed some signs:
People with hearing loss may be trying to hide it because of feelings of shame and stigma. But there is so much to be gained by finding a hearing solution. Getting a hearing aid puts your loved one back in control of their situation. It empowers them to reconnect with the people and things that they enjoy while staying ahead of mental-health challenges that come from hearing loss (like depression and loss of confidence). And it can help stave off longer term medical issues that are linked to untreated hearing loss like problems with walking, balance, and even dementia.
Get ready to talk by taking some time to organize your thoughts and identify potential snags in the process. Having a conversation with a loved one about their hearing loss opens communication in the relationship and can create a mutual appreciation for one another’s fears, hopes, and wants.
Sometimes, in the moment, everything we want to talk about gets hard to remember. Not only are we are dealing with our own emotions or nerves, we are working to protect the feelings of our loved one. We know that we are telling them something that they may not want to talk about. They may deflect or deny. And that’s why having a plan can really help.
Writing down your goal keeps you focused and gives you a place to start. Start with a short sentence about what you are feeling. It could focus on how you would like to help your loved one or you could share something you’ve been observing. It doesn’t have to be fancy. If you’re having writers block, try using one of the goal statement ideas below to get started:
Next, write an outline of the topics you’d like to cover and important points you’d like to make. Remember, no one has to see this so it doesn’t matter if you choose the right words. Just focus on writing down important topics that you want to make sure to address.
If you have feelings you’d like to share, write those down too. It’s important to speak your emotions during the process. Let loved ones know what you’re seeing and how their hearing loss is affecting you and the family.
It’s not always easy to begin talking. Like anything difficult, getting started is generally the hardest part. Consider rehearsing the conversation with a friend or spouse before you broach the conversation with your loved one. Keep your goal statement and outline close at hand to refer to if you need help along the way.
Your loved one may welcome the conversation, or they may be hesitant. Be patient and empathetic and keep going. Let them know what you’ve been seeing.
Although your outline is a map to resolution, there could be roadblocks along the way. Your loved one may initially deny their hearing loss or respond in a way that feels confrontational. They may feel sadness about changes you are seeing in them or be fearful of what a hearing solution could cost (and how that would affect the family).
Being mindful of your environment can go a long way towards helping you and your loved one have a successful conversation.
Not being able to hear can be exhausting. Straining to keep up and stay engaged is tiring. It’s important that you make sure to give your loved one a chance to share their feelings, too.
If your loved one has been struggling with hearing loss for some time, it may take a few dialogues before they are ready to take next steps. Though you have had time to prepare for this conversation, your loved one may be caught off guard. Listen to how they are feeling with empathy. Ask questions but give them space for answers.
Simply offering your companionship and assurance that your loved one doesn’t have to struggle with their hearing loss alone can bring them one step closer to getting the help they need.
Consider putting some time on the calendar to visit a store together so they can see their options in person. Or, make it a team effort by checking out the following resources together:
Addressing hearing loss can take a long time and talking about how to improve hearing isn’t always easy. Be persistent and patient. Helping your loved one take the next step shows your compassion and ability to empathize.