It’s Time to Tell your Parents they need Hearing Aids

Talking about hearing aidsWe all dread the day when we will have the conversation with our aging parents that they can no longer drive, and they may need hearing aids. What is the right way to have the “talk” with our parents? It’s an uncomfortable conversation, yet an important one.  The biggest fear our aging population has, is losing their independence.  One of the most important things to convey to our parents is that we want the best for them in their later years. By showing compassion and understanding, the whole conversation about hearing loss will go much smoother.

Addressing hearing loss may not seem like the most pressing issue for our parents, but it can affect their everyday lives. It can also become a safety issue and can hasten cognitive decline. Driving with hearing loss can prevent the ability to hear emergency vehicles and other drivers and cause accidents. Trying to navigate public transportation with hearing loss can cause frustration and lead to older adults staying home and not seeking medical help and losing contact with friends and family.

Other Factors Involved

Hearing loss can lead to miscommunication or misinformation from doctors and other healthcare professionals. They may not hear all the details of their illness, and could possibly misunderstand important details pertaining to medication usage and dosage. It has also been shown that hearing loss can lead to increased cognitive decline. Not being able to hear can cause confusion, frustration, isolation and even depression. Communication can become strained, which can lead to older folks shutting down, and not enjoying precious time with friends and family.

Beginning the Conversation on Hearing Aids

There are some simple steps to take before having this difficult conversation. Take time and think about when is the best time to have the conversation about hearing loss with your aging parents. The first thing to do, is to put yourself in their shoes. Be empathetic and loving. Remember that you want to help them get the best help for their hearing loss, and that you want only the best for them. Keep in mind that the conversation may not end the way you planned.

The second thing to do is, research. Do your best to know the basics about hearing loss.  Your parents may not know the basics and will be grateful that they don’t need to spend time researching. Make sure to study the basics of hearing loss, such as the progression of the disease, and the typical solutions.

Next, timing is everything. We all know that picking the right time and place to have a difficult discussion can be just as important as the topic. Don’t do it when they are stressed about any other health issues or in a loud setting. Find a quiet, comfortable spot to talk and consider the time of day. Many older adults are tired toward the end of day. You know your parents better than anyone else, so choose what you know will work best for them.

Scheduling their First Visit

Before you make an appointment with an audiologist, check out insurance requirements, and be willing to attend the appointment with them. Some families can also help with the expenses of hearing aids. Many adults put off hearing tests because of the cost of treatment. If you can help financially, please offer. Stay on their side. If you notice that their hearing is worsening or their hearing aids may not be working properly, let them know and help with getting them back in the office for a “tune-up”.

Listen to your parents. If they have complaints about their hearing, make sure you follow up and ask questions. You may need to attend their appointments to help convey any frustrations they are experiencing.  The last thing you want is for an expensive hearing aid to end up in a drawer somewhere.

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