At some point, most of us will have to deal with aging parents and the issues that are sure to follow. However, talking with your parents about aging and aging related issues can be difficult for everyone involved. It’s normal to feel a little awkward at first, because the parent-child roles are reversed. Therefore, you should spend some time educating yourself about exactly how to start the conversation. One of the first indicators of age that comes about is oftentimes hearing loss. Here are 10 helpful ways you can start the hearing loss conversation with your parents.
- How Would You Feel?
The best way to understand any situation is to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Imagine how you would feel if you were the one experiencing hearing loss and how frustrating it would be not to be able to communicate effectively. Then realize how you would like to be approached about the subject if it were you. This will help you enter into a conversation about the subject from the right frame of mind.
- Picking the Right Location for “The Talk”
The worst thing you could do is attempt to begin this conversation in a public place or around others who your parent may or may not be comfortable with. Pick a place where you know your parent will be comfortable and free from anxiety or public embarrassment.
- Be Mentally Prepared
Before you enter into the conversation about hearing loss, you should be mentally prepared for the possibility that your parent will become defensive and know exactly what you will say in response. You might need to practice this ahead of time so you don’t stumble and make it harder for them than it has to be.
- Speak Clearly to Avoid Any Miscommunication
Don’t forget to speak clearly and talk slowly while looking your parent in the eyes so they can see your face and more easily understand what you are saying. The last thing you want is for there to be any unnecessary misunderstandings.
- Express Your Sincere Desire to Help
You don’t want to come across as overbearing or intent on getting your way, especially when it comes to discussing your parent’s hearing loss. Therefore, you need to make sure you have genuinely expressed your sincere desire to help.
- Base Your Conversation on the Facts
One of the best ways to communicate effectively when having a conversation about hearing loss is to back up your conversation with facts all while confirming with your parent that you are just trying to help. Explain the recent theories about uncorrected hearing loss and the potential for it to lead to dementia and/or Alzheimer’s disease, avoiding depression and maintaining a healthy relationship with friends and family and any other facts pertaining to hearing loss you can find.
- Discuss New Technologies
Talk to your parent about how technology has advanced and how hearing aids are probably much different than what they have imagined and how they have changed over the years. The last thing you want are any old stigmas about hearing aids preventing you from having an effective conversation. Furthermore, you don’t want your parent to be afraid of using any type of new technology either. So be careful about how you approach this part of the conversation.
- Be Prepared to Overcome All Their Objections
Many people will resist the suggestion about needing a hearing aid as a form of denial to the problem and they will come up with a laundry list of objections, such as: too much background noise, muffled voices, ringing, not being able to hear correctly, etc. Make sure you have pre-determined any possible objections before you have the hearing loss conversation so you can overcome each objection in a neutral, non-confrontational, matter-of-fact way.
- Compassion Goes a Long Way
This goes back to putting yourself in their shoes. You must remember that if your parent becomes angry, resentful or irrational to keep your cool and continue to show compassion and concern while remaining calm. Whatever you do never show frustration or reply to their anger with anger.
- Comfort and Vanity
The most common objections people have to wearing a hearing aid is the perception they are uncomfortable and way too visible, which can lead to embarrassment and social avoidance. Therefore, knowing that, you will need to come prepared with flyers and handouts and perhaps even a little online research to show them that hearing loss is a socially accepted part of aging and that today’s hearing aids are smaller than they used to be and are extremely unobtrusive. You might also want to talk about how today’s hearing aids use state-of-the-art technology that offers an exceptional user experience. This will help solidify the other objections you might have encountered earlier in the conversation and will lead to a more settling talk and one that will make your parent more open to accepting your help.