It is pretty typical for someone with hearing loss to go through 7 years of denial before seeking help. For the family members and friends of this individual, it can be very frustrating to have communication challenges and witness their loved one withdraw deeper and deeper into social isolation.
For the children of these individuals, often labeled the “Sandwich Generation” because they are tasked with caring for aging parents as well as their own children, having a conversation with their parent about hearing loss is not easy. Here are some tips for broaching the topic:
You don’t want to rush the conversation, nor do you want to have the conversation in a noisy or distracting environment that will make it difficult for your parent to listen and comprehend. Plan a time to speak when you have each other’s undivided attention and make sure you find a quiet place to do it in.
It’s unlikely that your parent will immediately acknowledge their hearing loss and agree to a course of action. You should prepare yourself for them to be defensive and hurt by what you are saying. Stay calm, listen to what they are saying and try to understand their perspective. The more you understand what they are experiencing and why they are resistant to seeing an audiologist, the better position you will be in to help them.
Don’t dismiss their feelings as unreasonable and don’t treat them like a child. Talk to them about the health risks you fear and why you think seeing a specialist may improve the quality of their life. Ultimately, you want them to feel loved and understand that you are speaking to them about this issue because you want to help them. Offer to make an appointment for them and go with them if they would like.
The most important thing is to show compassion and empathy. Your parent shouldn’t feel like you are criticizing or disrespecting them in any way. They will be more receptive to your suggestions if you have a direct conversation in which you listen carefully to their feelings and show that you understand their needs and fears.