Discussing Hearing Aids with a Loved One

Tiggy Shields

Perhaps one of the greatest challenges in the world of hearing loss is for a spouse or partner to convince the other that they need hearing aids. In some respects, this has similarities to confronting an aging parent who should stop driving. Emotions can run deep in the face of continual resistance. Concerns grow for safety and health, as can frustration and hurt. I understand well that there is no easy path here. My husband didn’t seek help until I took my own hearing test, and he was also invited to. He couldn’t deny the results, which revealed what he may have been sensing for several years.

According to Barbara Stepko’s article in a 2019 AARP publication, a study published in the International Journal of Audiology reported that 80% of adults between the ages of 55 and 74, who would benefit from wearing a hearing aid, don’t use them. Some are in denial, while for others it’s a matter of vanity or cost, to name a few reasons. So what’s the answer?

Ms. Stepko suggests finding a moment when neither of you are feeling stressed and then have “the talk.” Seek to keep the mood calm and nonconfrontational by gently commenting on some hearing problems you are noticing with them and asking why they don’t want to see a doctor. Then, consider the following tips:

1) Tout the benefits: prevents falls, improves your mood, reduces the sense of isolation, improves brain power (including function and working memory), may decrease the risk of dementia, can strengthen relationships. To learn more, visit AARP’s Hearing Resource Center.

2) Mention the nifty high-tech features: a Bluetooth connection can stream sound from a smartphone, laptop, or TV directly into hearing aids; a personal interpreter of other languages when you travel; a fall alert.

3) Break down the cost: A pair of aids costing $4,600, worn 12 months a year for five years, is approximately $75 a month or $2.50 a day.

4) Make it personal: Their hearing problem also affects you and your family. Consider listing how you are impacted and how you accommodate your loved one’s loss. Keep a journal to show them how often they ask that you repeat something or when they make the TV too loud.

5) Be a third-party advocate: Offer to accompany your loved one to the audiologist. If your loved one still resists, back off. Seeking treatment can only succeed if they want it.

To learn more about hearing loss, look into the resources provided by the AARP and Hearing Loss Association of America.

Our SaddleBrooke Discussion Group for Better Hearing also invites you to join our monthly virtual Zoom sessions. Our next meeting will be Thursday, May 13 at 10 a.m. Our topic for the month will be barriers to hearing. To sign up to receive a link for the May meeting, email [email protected] For more information about the SaddleBrooke Discussion Group for Better Hearing, contact Jen Jefferis at 360-909-6212 or email [email protected]