4 things to avoid saying to your ageing parent with hearing loss
Ageing can be an exciting journey. Individuals report having more time to pursue interests and fulfilling relationships with loved ones. However, ageing does come with its challenges. This includes the decline in hearing.
Adult children of ageing parents often find effective conversations a challenge. Sometimes well-meaning words can be misinterpreted as being hurtful and offensive and lead to strains in family relationships. Here are some communication guidelines for adult children who support their parents with hearing loss.
1. “You need a hearing aid!”
Avoid: Saying “You need a hearing aid.”
Try: I am concerned for your safety. I worry you may not be able to hear oncoming traffic when crossing the road. Also you need to hear clearly especially in case of emergencies. Maybe a hearing aid can prevent that from happening.
2. Using exaggerated mouth and hand gestures to talk.
Avoid: Exaggerated mouth and hand gestures can make conversations more difficult to understand as your parent may be relying on lip-reading during conversations. Not to mention, this behavior is usually offensive to your parent.
Try: Speak normally but with your face turned towards your parent. Avoid chewing or eating while talking as this makes lip reading more difficult.
3. “Never mind, I will tell you later.”
Avoid: Saying “Never mind” or “I’ll tell you later.”
Try: Make effort to include your parent in conversations. If they give a confused face, gently check with them if they are following and whether they would like you to repeat what you said. You can also try paraphrasing, speaking in another familiar language, or writing some words down to make it easier for your parent to understand.
4. “Why can’t you hear clearly with your hearing aids?”
Avoid: Saying “Why can’t you hear clearly with hearing aids?”
Try: Consulting your parent’s audiologist on whether the hearing aids can be adjusted, whether your parent needs auditory rehabilitation, or ask for tips on how you can better communicate with your parent. Remember even with hearing aids, not everyone can hear the same way as a person with normal hearing can.