How to convince older relatives they should check hearing

Many older Australians are in denial about their hearing problems. But what should you do when it’s your own parent or relative?

Initially, you may have a giggle at their misunderstanding of words or the bizarre interpretations they come up with, but after a while the daily miscommunication will lead to concern and frustration of having to repeat yourself.

Age-related hearing loss generally occurs gradually. As a result, it is often family and friends who are the first to notice the problem.

“We often get children contacting us who are concerned about their parents, as they’ve been trying to call them on the telephone all day and they don’t answer, or others who have broken into their parents’ house after repeatedly knocking on the door, only to find them blissfully unaware in the back garden,” says Janette Thorburn, Principal Audiologist at Australian Hearing.

But, quite often, because of the stigma attached to hearing loss, elderly parents don’t respond to initial prompts from their children to have their hearing tested.

Why is there so much resistance?

First, denial. Many older adults just don’t think they have a problem.

“We know from research that it takes older Australians with hearing loss seven to 10 years before they have their hearing tested, and more than 50 per cent would prefer to suffer than investigate ways to deal with their hearing loss,” says Thorburn.

There are barriers to people taking up hearing aids, but it’s important to keep encouraging loved ones to have their hearing checked.

Tips to convince loved ones to have their hearing checked

Talk to them about the benefits of seeking help and the things they are missing out on, such as social occasions or physical activities. Reassure them that modern devices are small and the technology is simple and automatic.

Discuss the dangers of undiagnosed hearing loss—for instance, not being able to hear properly while driving, or misinterpreting their doctor’s advice.

Australian Hearing is the leading provider of hearing loss support services and devices. For more information on hearing loss for children we’re happy to chat.