Realizing that your parents are aging and might need some extra help can feel strange because the roles are reversed: Your parents cared for you as you grew up, and now you want to look out for them as they grow older. In some cases, your advice and concern may be overlooked by parents because they are simply used to being independent and don’t want you to think they need help.
Noticing that your parent has hearing loss that is causing him or her to miss important information or become isolated will probably make you want to help, but maybe you don’t know how. Talking with your older parents about their hearing loss can be stressful, but here are some tips to make the process go more smoothly:
Research hearing loss
First, do some research. Learning about hearing loss and why it might be affecting your parent can help you communicate better. About 1 of every 3 adults age 65 or older is living with hearing loss; it’s a very common and normal part of aging. Informing yourself is the first step in having a productive conversation with your mom or dad. There are many hearing loss solutions ranging from simple to technologically advanced, so researching these options is helpful as well.
Choose a calm moment
Making sure you pick a good time to sit down and talk with your parents in a compassionate way will make it more apparent that you are doing it out of care and have thought about the situation for a long time.
Consider finding a time when everyone is relaxed and you can show your parent that you are genuinely concerned that his or her declining ability to hear might lead to safety issues, like not hearing a fire alarm, or social isolation and depression if not addressed in some way.
Discuss benefits, not features
When you’re helping your parent with hearing loss, consider discussing the options available to him or her, but don’t focus on the technological features of things like the voice to text phones or other assistive listening devices. Although it might be tempting, focusing on the benefits of how new technologies can help your parent remain independent and live a fulfilling life may be all the motivation they need.
Together, seek out solutions that your parent will be comfortable using. A fancy high-tech gadget may look great on paper, but if your parent is not familiar with how it works, it may just sit unused. Look for equipment that looks and acts in a manner that feels comfortable and familiar to your parent.
Build a support team
Many older adults facing hearing loss feel isolated, when in fact hearing loss is very common as people age. There may be other friends in your parents’ social circle with similar experiences that may be able to lesson the anxiety for your parent. Online resources like Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) share tips and helpful suggestions for facing the everyday challenges of hearing loss. Knowing there are others who are going through this may help support your parents’ situation.
Be an advocate
Be an advocate for your parent. Offering to visit the doctor with him or her is a good idea because addressing a new health issue takes a lot of courage, and your help can be a great source of comfort.