Losing one’s hearing can be frightening. Most people wait years before doing something about their hearing loss, preferring to tell themselves it will pass or that it isn’t that bad. But untreated hearing loss negatively impacts their safety, relationships, and quality of life.
It often falls to family members or close friends to discuss the issue and support the individual in seeking assessment and assistance. This is a difficult and delicate conversation (or series of conversations). How do you even start?
There are many possible causes of hearing loss, and many supports and treatments for it. Get a handle on some facts. Locate some local hearing care centres that have a good reputation and skilled staff. Be able to answer some of the questions or concerns your loved one might have, and have responses to the most common denial statements. Be able to talk with knowledge about how common an issue it is, and how effective modern treatments and support can be.
Choose a Good Time and Place
Have privacy and no background noise. Choose a place where your loved one feels safe and comfortable. Don’t start this conversation when your loved one is stressed about other things. Be sure to speak loudly and clearly.
Often when we have a strong belief about an issue, we listen to a chance to convince the other person instead of listening to understand. You may be very concerned about trying to get your loved one to see your point and accept that they must do something, but they will be much more receptive if they feel you understand where they are coming from. Don’t jump ahead in your thoughts to the next thing you want to say. Don’t fill in the conversation with your own thoughts and answer what you think instead of what actually comes out of your loved one’s mouth. Really listen, try to understand their fears and anxieties about this issue. Listen to comprehend and see where they are coming from.
Use Positive Communication
Be tactful and courteous when you talk. Instead of “you never hear what I say” or “why are you always so stubborn!”, use personalised statements like, “I’m worried about how often you have to ask people to repeat themselves.” or “I’m concerned about what might happen if you don’t hear a car coming.” Do not scold or talk down to them.
Bring in positivity. Make sure they feel that you are having this conversation because you care about them and want them to be okay. Emphasise possible gains. Talk about what might be good about having their hearing checked. Sometimes hearing loss can be stopped or slowed. They might be able to hear their grandchild’s music recital or school play, and they’ll be able to have conversations on the phone again.
If you need more information or help planning for this conversation, feel free to call and talk to the helpful, trained staff at The Hearing Care Shop.