“It’s time to get Dad some hearing aids..”
Maybe it’s your favorite auntie. Or your beloved uncle or tutu (that means grandma if you’re reading this from the mainland.. Aloha!). Or your spouse, with whom you spend so much time every day.
Who is the most important person in your life that is not hearing well? You’re wondering if it could be better and you want to help find a solution to bring back the deep conversations, the stories, and the laughs. The simple truth is that hearing loss is a health condition that affects more than just one person- your loved one is missing out on hearing, and you are missing out on your loved one!
The good news— you can be an advocate to encourage that special person toward a decision to try something. You’ve come to the right place to learn some ways to be an influential companion.
First, a few interesting facts:
- 35% of Americans over age 65 have a hearing loss that could be helped with hearing aids; but
- Only 1 in 5 of them are actually treating it; so
- That means 28% of Americans over 65 could ~or maybe should~ be hearing better!
- People of all ages may experience hearing loss, particularly with past exposure to loud noise.
- The earlier you treat it, the more likely you will find success for the long term by remaining engaged and keeping the brain healthy.
- Actively using hearing aids helps keep you mentally fit by reducing the risk of cognitive decline.
“Could my loved one really hear better?” The best way to find out is a full hearing evaluation with your local Doctor of Audiology. A Doctor of Audiology holds the highest degree in clinical hearing care and is the most qualified health care provider to help you find the right solution.
There are other types of providers who can dispense hearing aids, in clinical or retail settings, but the practice of your local Audiologist is the place to find the best in hearing care. Make sure you guide them to a Doctor of Audiology, not a hearing aid dispenser or technician. Insurance will cover hearing testing from an Audiologist, but not from a technician.
“But they don’t want to go!” – Yes it’s true, a lot of people aren’t excited about hearing testing, or any trip to any doctor for that matter. There are plenty of reasons why- they don’t realize there’s a problem, don’t want to face it or deal with it, don’t think it can be helped, don’t think it’s that big of a deal, don’t think hearing aids work, etc.. What they might need is to realize for themselves that they have been needlessly missing out on some of the joys of life, and you can be the catalyst to that realization.
This doesn’t mean pestering them into a trip to the doctor.. But it will be helped by kind efforts on your part. Studies show that it takes an average of ten years for someone to realize there is a hearing problem, and another ten years to do something about it. You shouldn’t have to wait that long to get back to the good times again.
“So what can I do?” – It happens through asking questions, listening, and supporting a healthy active change. Here’s a few good types of questions to start with:
“Dad, have you noticed that it seems like you’re saying ‘what’ and ‘huh’ more lately?”
“What do you do when you can’t hear me on the phone?”
“Mom, you used to enjoy the garden club, right?.. if you could hear better, would you go back to the meetings again?”
“Uncle, I know of a really great Audiologist, have you ever seen one for a hearing evaluation?”
“Hey, if I make an appointment with an Audiologist for you, would you mind if I come with you to see if it really makes any difference?”
“Hey, I read that your insurance will cover hearing testing – have you ever had it done before? You paid for that coverage, you might as well use it.”
“Honey, it’s hard to watch TV together because it’s up a little loud for me, can we find a solution so we can enjoy our shows together?”
- Enlist friends and family in the discussion, but don’t gang up. Your loved one needs to see how much you care – and could all be happier with improvement.
- Shame and blame will work against progress; stay positive and focus on the possibilities.
- Contact our office to talk to one of our care coordinators. Tell us the story and we can help write a happier ending for it. We’ll be glad to talk to you over the phone or in person.
- Ask us to send you a brochure or other materials to share. We have a self evaluation checklist, and a companion version that the two of you can fill out to learn each other’s perspectives.
- If possible, provide us with insurance information so we can check benefits in advance of an appointment.
- Attend the hearing evaluation, and take an active companion role in the appointment.
- Do you live far away? We can arrange for you to call in during the appointment and participate!
“What will be my role at the appointment as a companion?” – There are many ways that your voice and experience will influence the success of the visit:
- You’ll help the Audiologist learn more about your loved one’s lifestyle and the situations that we need to address- the more we understand, the better our recommendations can be. Tell us more about the noisy restaurants you go to, the group events you attend, or the music you enjoy together.
- The sound of your voice can be the first one we test out with hearing aids if the Audiologist recommends it! Who better to hear first than you?
- Four ears are better than two- the Audiologist will have plenty to talk through, and you can make sure the important things aren’t missed.
- Be ready to gently discuss how their hearing loss affects you- your loved one may not be aware of it.
- You can help keep the focus on the things that matter, instead of the reasons to not try
In our practice, we’ve found consistent results over the years: our patients are twice as likely to proceed with a plan for improved hearing if they have support with them during the process. You can double the likelihood of success just by being there for the person you love. Sounds easy, right? Well, sometimes getting to the appointment can be the hardest part. You don’t want to drag, nag, or shame somebody into doing something they do not want to do- it just won’t work. You must listen carefully and recognize whether they realize: that a problem exists, that it also affects others who care, that it could be better, and that you are there to help. This journey may not be fast, but the end result is worth it.
If you’ve read this far, kudos to you– you obviously care a lot about someone who needs help to hear better. Now you know how to start to make a difference. How will you be the influential companion that your loved one needs? If any of these tips have helped you, please let us know!