Hearing Care

How Do I Support a Parent with Hearing Loss?

Daughter comforting mom

Are you concerned because you’ve recently noticed your mother or father having difficulty understanding words when in a noisy environment? Is he or she muffling their speech or asking you to speak more slowly or loudly?

You suspect that they may be experiencing the first signs of hearing loss; and you’re probably right.

But bringing up an unpopular topic such as the need to find help for hearing loss can lead to arguments or communication breakdown. That’s why it is important to learn how to support a parent with hearing loss. Here are some tips we’ve shared with our clients over the years.

First, Understand How They May Feel

The first step to helping your loved one who is struggling to accept the fact that they may be experiencing hearing loss is to understand how they feel. By seeing the situation in their shoes, it will help you to provide them with better support. Here are a few common feelings that they may be experiencing:

I don’t need help.
Often the first reaction when a loved one brings up this subject is to refuse help. Especially when the solution is to look at using a hearing aid. Be understanding that their initial refusal may be due to the stigma behind using a hearing aid. Maybe they feel it officially makes them “old” or feel that wearing a device on their ear will hurt.

I’ll lose my independence.
Much like losing the ability to drive, they may feel that admitting to hearing loss will take away from their independence. Imagine spending most of your life as a self-sufficient individual capable of taking care of yourself. The idea of losing an ability you’ve had control of all of your life can be daunting.

I feel so alone.
If your parent has shown symptoms of hearing loss for some time, it may be possible that they are already feeling isolated from their family and friends. Hearing loss makes it harder to socialize and rather than dealing with uncomfortable situations, they may just decide to stop joining in, further isolating themselves. Extra care should be taken to support them and show them they are not facing this alone.

I am depressed.
The inability to hear clearly can take a toll on your loved one. Hearing loss may affect their sleep patterns or their weight may change. They may also have less energy and stop taking care of themselves. This can ultimately lead to depression.

Knowing that your loved one may be experiencing any of the above feelings will better equip you with the patience and empathy to help support them during this change in their life.

Next, Be Supportive

Now that you are aware of how they may be feeling, the next step is to show your support and understanding. Here are some suggestions on how you can approach them and offer your help:

It’s all about timing.
Wait for the right time to approach them about their hearing loss and the idea of seeking help. Never do it when they are stressed out about other things or are feeling frustrated with their hearing loss. Make sure you are doing it in a quiet environment, away from the television, and turn off your phones to avoid being interrupted.

Let them know it’s about staying safe and healthy.
Explain to your loved one that ignoring hearing loss can have a big impact on their health and safety. Everyday situations such as a car horn honking while they’re crossing the street or the wailing of sirens as an emergency vehicle speeds down the road can now become real dangers to someone with hearing loss. And studies have shown that untreated hearing loss can cause auditory deprivation (the brain loses its ability to process sound). Putting their hearing loss in this light may help them understand why immediate treatment is necessary.

Focus on the impact on their lives
When explaining the impacts of hearing loss, don’t focus on how it will affect you as their caregiver; rather, show them how it will affect their daily lives and the things they enjoy doing. Explain that seeing their friends for a game of bridge, speaking on the phone with their grandchildren, and listening to their favorite radio show can all have an impact if they don’t treat their hearing loss.

Be kind, and don’t nag!
Lastly, it’s important to remember to always be kind. Always be supportive and show an interest in their hearing loss treatment. Accompany them to have their hearing checked and show genuine interest in their hearing aids by trying to understand how they work. This helps build a “we’re in this together” situation that is healthy and supportive.

We’re here to help!
Our clinics are here to serve you if you’re ready to help your loved one take their first step towards treating hearing loss. Just book an appointment and we’ll take care of the rest!

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