How to convince older relatives they should check hearing

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 Hearing Australia.

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.1

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.

Hearing Australia is the nation’s largest provider of government-funded hearing services. If you would like your relative to come in for a free* hearing check please find a centre here or they can take our online hearing test

Only 15 minute hearing checks are free. Other services may attract charges/fees or may be subsidised for those eligible under the Australian Government Hearing Services Program, to which conditions apply. A hearing check is a screening that helps identify people that may have hearing loss.

1. Acceptability, benefit, and costs of early screening for hearing disability (2007): a study of potential screening tests and models. Davis A1, Smith P, Ferguson M, Stephens D, Gianopoulos I,