It’s hard to watch the aging process affect the ones you love. By age 65, one in three people suffers from hearing loss, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America. This can be a source of pain, frustration, and embarrassment for older individuals. Thus, it is important to be sensitive and aware when having “the talk” with your loved one.
Noticing Signs of Hearing Loss in Your Parents
In the beginning phases of hearing loss, some of the signs may be subtle. Many older people try to compensate for their hearing difficulties or hide the extent of their problems. A few signs that your loved ones might be experiencing hearing loss might are:
- Frequently asking others to repeat what they say
- Complaining that other people mumble when they speak
- Difficulty hearing someone talking behind them
- Turning up the volume on the television or radio
- Having difficulty hearing individual conversations in a group setting
- Expressing frustration about talking on the phone
- Failing to notice alarm clocks, timers, or other notification devices
- Having trouble following dialogue in television shows or movies
- Avoiding parties, restaurants, or other situations with a lot of background noise
- Declining to attend activities that would previously have been enjoyable
How to Have “The Talk” About Hearing Loss With Your Parents
If you’ve noticed one or more of the above symptoms, it might be time to talk to your parent or loved one about hearing loss. This can be a difficult subject to broach, as it can dredge up a person’s anxieties about growing older, or put them on the defensive if they don’t think they have a problem. However, having a discussion about hearing loss is the first step in helping your loved one get the help they need.
- Be sensitive. Hearing loss may not seem like a big deal to you, but it is often embarrassing and frustrating for the person involved. Before broaching the topic, take a few minutes to think about how scary and isolating it would be to have hearing difficulty. Remain compassionate and sensitive to your loved one’s reaction and perspective on the problem.
- Choose your moment. Find a time when you can sit down with your parents in a one-on-one fashion. Broach the topic in a quiet, comfortable space when you have plenty of time to discuss the issue.
- Be specific about your concerns.If you’ve noticed symptoms of hearing loss, bring them up. Having specific examples shows that you’ve thought about the problem and want to help your loved one find a good solution.
- Avoid a flood of information. After doing research on hearing aids, you may be excited to talk about the variety of available options. However, it’s best to keep things simple during your initial conversation. Focus on your parent’s concerns and needs, rather than specific technological solutions.
- Help with logistics. Be an advocate for your parent during this difficult process. By setting up appointments, accompanying your parent, and discussing options, you can offer support and comfort.