It can be emotionally challenging when you know a loved has a hearing loss, but they are in denial. It’s even worse when they know, but they don’t want to do anything about it.

Their reasoning might be that they “know” they’ll have to get hearing aids and they either can’t afford them and/or they don’t want to wear them.

But you know that the sooner they get help, the better their hearing will be and the better it can be protected down the road.

So, how do you go about helping in a way that gets the desired outcome — treatment?

The things you do and say will either help or hinder, so we’ve decided to share some tips that have worked for us in the Sonoma and Marin counties we’ve served for the last 30+ years.

There are three basics to helping a loved one come to terms with their hearing loss and seek the help they need.

  1. Compassion and understanding
  2. Education
  3. Being an advocate

1.   Compassion and Understanding

We get it. It’s hard to accept aging and all the trials that come with it – relying on others for hearing help and seeing their frustration, people judging you for having a disability, feeling alone in a crowd. This is why your compassion matters so much.

Your frustration can put them on the defensive while your compassion can make a way for acceptance.

Pointing out what’s wrong will usually never get a positive response, whereas empathy-focused conversations might.

Your compassion shows that you understand why they might be feeling the way they do about their hearing loss. Your understanding helps you show empathy no matter how unpleasant your conversation about their hearing loss might be.

Clarify that your main desire is to have great conversations again and to be able to enjoy movies, phone calls, family, and music together. It can make all the difference.

2.   Education

When you are better-informed, you can stick to the facts and not get caught up in your emotions about their hearing loss. You’ll know the exact signs of hearing loss, what a hearing assessment is like, and what a hearing care professional does.

Sharing this information with your loved one can calm their fears and help them, perhaps, come to accept that they might have a hearing problem. This can be a big first step to getting help.

You’ll also be aware of the consequences of not treating hearing loss as soon as possible, and you can share treatment options in a gentle way.

Knowing how much hearing aid technology has changed can also be comforting to your loved one when they learn that practically invisible hearing aids are an option and that they can adjust it from a phone app rather than worry about their manual dexterity.

3.   Be an Advocate

Being a hearing loss advocate for your relative looks like being there for them as they consider the kind of help they might seek out. You want them back to their independent, active life, and they’ll see that you are willing to help do whatever it takes to get them there.

Some steps toward this:

  • Suggest an in-person, phone, or tele-audiology consultation so they can have any fears addressed and any questions answered, including insurance questions.
  • Let them know you are willing to go with them for a hearing test and that you are willing to do one yourself at the same time – if you haven’t had one in a while.
  • Hang out with friends and family who are getting treatment for their hearing loss and ask them to share their stories.
  • Ask your family doctor to start screening for hearing loss so they’ll ask about it at the next checkup and do a referral. It’s often easier for a relative to accept advice from a medical professional.

We’ll Be Your Loved One’s Advocate Too

Helping you achieve better hearing and maintaining your hearing health here in Marin County and Sonoma County is what makes our jobs so satisfying.

We hear so many stories from our patients, who say things like:

“They have been incredibly helpful with my elderly father in recommending and caring for his hearing aids.”

“I didn’t expect how great my first hearing aids would be.”

“Dennis gives me all the time I need until I have no more questions to ask.”

Have your loved one contact the Park Place Hearing Center team today with any questions at all. They have nothing to lose with a short call, and we’ll see if they are open to scheduling a hearing assessment with us.

We have audiologists in Marin County, Sonoma County, Petaluma, and San Rafael.

In the meantime, keep hoping, and call us if you need our encouragement. We’re happy to help.

Do you know somebody that needs to see this? Why not share it?

Laura Dundas, Au.D., CCC-A

Dr. Laura Dundas professional experience includes experience as a staff audiologist for a major hearing aid manufacturer and as a clinical audiologist and department coordinator for the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. Dr. Dundas received her Doctor of Audiology degree from the Northeast Ohio Audiology Consortium and specializes in diagnostic evaluation of hearing and balance disorders.
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