Honey, are you listening to me?!

Has your husband shown symptoms that tells you he finds it harder and harder to hear? Get tips and advise about how to talk about hearing loss with a loved one.

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Don't worry! You are not the only one who finds it hard to help someone you care about come to terms with their hearing difficulties.

Talking about a hearing problem with your husband who hasn’t yet come to terms with hearing loss, is a sensitive topic. However, though it may seem difficult, it is important to talk about. Our family 
counsellor offers 5 tips for making a challenging conversation easier.

5 tips to start that difficult conversation

You’ve noticed recently that your husband’s hearing is declining. When the whole family gets together, he disappears into his own world and can’t really keep up with the subtle nuances of the conversation.

Sometimes you get the impression that he is trying to guess what you just said or studying your body language to work out what kind of reaction you expect from him. Not to mention talking over the phone, which is virtually impossible without shouting. 

A sensitive topic
Mette Weber is a family counsellor and conflict supervisor specialising in communication, which helps families improve their ability to talk about sensitive topics such as birth, sickness and even death. 

A hearing loss can be a sensitive topic when the person closest to you refuses to acknowledge to having a problem.  Especially when the affected person is your husband with whom you are so close, and he is the person you have always shared everything with. 

Talking about hearing loss is often quite taboo and we don’t want to be reminded of the fact that we are getting older. For many people, a hearing aid represents old age and getting used to the idea might take time. Even though modern hearing aids are very discreet, it is a big deal emotionally.”

How to ensure a constructive conversation?
As our hearing declines, we tend to cut off from our surroundings involuntarily. This has a tremendous impact on our personal relations. Worst case, this can lead to isolation and loneliness.

So, what can you do as a relative if you want a family member to go and get their hearing checked?

Our family expert has 5 important tips.

1. Timing
The timing is very important when you plan to start that difficult conversation. Try to find a time when he is in a good mood and you yourself feel up to the task with a calm frame of mind. 

2. Approach
Take care not to sound condescending and all-knowing as this will no doubt have a negative effect. Making fun of the problem won’t help either. The best approach is to explain your frustration without being critical and without having all the answers ready.

3. Explain how you see things and ask both open-ended and closed-ended questions
Try to explain things as you see them and investigate how you experience the problem while you focus on the other person. Start with open-ended question such as: “Yesterday, when we were all together, I felt that you weren’t really part of the conversation. Was that just me, or am I on to something here?” Follow up with a closed-ended question such as: “Do you find it difficult to hear what we are saying?”

By asking open-ended questions, you show an interest and invite to reflection. In this connection, pausing between questions is a good idea. Give the other person time to reflect, rather than barging in with a bunch of solutions.

4. Keep the ball in your own court 
Think before you speak. Remember to pause between questions and keep the ball in your own court. It is okay to voice your own frustrations and explain how the hearing loss affects you and your mutual relationship.

One way of expressing this could be:

”It might not be a problem for you, but I really want to continue having great conversations with you, so it’s important for me that you can hear me. Otherwise we won’t be able to keep up our conversations and that makes me really sad.” 

In this way you focus on how it affects you (keeping the ball in your own court) and not blaming your husband.

5. Show understanding
It is important that your husband feels understood and accepted. You can express this by saying something like: 
“It must be difficult to accept that your hearing isn’t as good as it used to be. Obviously, it is your decision whether you want to try if a hearing aid might help you. Now you know how I feel about it and my hope is that you will at least consider it. Will you give it some thought, please?”

Written by Charlotte Haase
70% believe they should have got their hearing aids sooner, as it has improved their life, mental and emotional health, and performance at work.

Want to get even more tips and tricks on how to start the conversation about hearing loss?
Then download the 30 pages free guide below.

What do I get in the free brochure?
  1. Tips to change the psychology around the difficult conversation about hearing loss.

  2. Simple tests you can do at home to test your loved one's hearing 

  3. 5 practical tips to improve the everyday conversation
  4. 5 facts about the social impact of a hearing loss

  5. Surprising facts about hearing aid technology

    and much more...