The hearing test… How do I persuade a loved one to book a consultation?

July 30, 2013 by Michèle Veilleux

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It is not easy to convince the people in our lives to consult an audiologist. Deafness is commonly associated with old age, and who wants to admit to getting older with the accompanying loss of abilities? Telling someone they “don’t hear well” can therefore feel somewhat confrontational.

Deafness can sneak up on people. Because it often occurs very gradually, many don’t even realize that anything is wrong with their hearing. People who fail to notice their hearing loss will often lay blame on those around them: ­“Everyone else mumbles—they don’t speak clearly!” is a common argument. It is hard for a person to realize they are missing sounds they can no longer hear. Bear in mind that before hearing impaired people come to terms with their deafness, they typically go through a fairly long period of denial. It can be a frustrating experience. On aver­age, it is usually five to seven years between the time someone starts to notice a problem and the time they consult an audiologist. Some will even wait up to 15 years.

There is no magic formula for persuading someone to book a consultation. Every person will react differently to the suggestion. For some, it is important to approach the topic very gently, while others will respond to a more direct approach. It can be helpful to appeal to a person’s emotions; for example, by asking them if they are bothered by their inability to understand others during family get-togethers or when they play with their grandchildren. You can also bring up your own feelings by talking about how it makes you sad when the person avoids taking part in conversations, or frustrated when you constantly need to repeat yourself. Make sure to choose an appropriate time when the person is likely to be receptive. Above all, avoid bringing up the topic when a third person is present. Be respectful when broaching the subject and you will have a better chance of being heard.

Stick to the facts, and avoid using a harsh tone or accusatory words so the person does not feel as if they are being attacked. Avoid the following expressions: “You don’t understand anything,” “You always make me repeat everything” or “Your responses don’t make any sense!” It is better to use the “I” formula: “I have the impression that you are more tired after group gatherings,” or
“I think you are having more trouble under­­s­tanding people than you used to.” It is important to let the person know that you only want what is best for them and that your goal is to improve their quality of life.

Be an active listener and try to understand their point of view. Don’t force the issue.

Hearing health profession-als are there to help people cope with hearing loss. You can let your loved one know they have nothing to lose and everything to gain by booking a consultation!

You can even offer to make the process easier by arranging the appointment or accompanying them to the audiologist. For people who are dealing with hearing loss, gestures like these will certainly reduce their stress.

Here are a few other helpful tips: 

  • Leave some Lobe Magazine issues lying around to demystify the issue.
  • Find a reason to bring up a recently published article that may be of interest.
  • Make a positive comment about a neighbour’s hearing aids.
  • Etc.

Lastly, just like our eyes, our ears need regular preventative check-ups throughout our lives, and hearing tests are recommended, especially after the age of 50.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact an audi­ologist at a Lobe Santé auditive et communication multidisciplinary clinic.