Your mother is always there for you. She loves you, before herself. She is your caregiver, confidant, and friend. She is always willing to lend an ear to your daily triumphs and concerns. But what if she can no longer hear you because of a hearing loss? How can you help her through this challenge so that you can both continue to enjoy your special relationship for many years to come? Here are my suggestions. Please share yours in the comments.
I am a mom with hearing loss and I did not cope with it well, at first. I would fake interactions, avoid people I couldn’t hear, and sometimes steer clear of socializing all together. This went on for years, but when my young children began to notice, I had to stop. I needed to accept my hearing loss to set a better example for them. To be the mom I wanted to be. You can read more of my story here.
But, what if your mom is older — no longer your daily caregiver, but still an important figure in your life. You see her drifting away from friends, disengaging at family events, ignoring your phone calls or just nodding along when you talk without seeming to understand what you are saying. What can you do to pull her back into the fold?
Talk to her about trying out a hearing aid or two.
Perhaps this is not the first time you have had this conversation. Rather than be angry and frustrated with her lack of interest, talk about how much you love and miss her. Tell her you still need her to be your mom and in order for her to do that, she needs to address her hearing issues. Everyone wants to be needed. Plus, it is true.
Come armed with a list of pros and cons.
Whenever I faced a serious decision, my mother always suggested mapping out the pros and cons. See if she will entertain this strategy for herself. Below are two suggested lists. One highlights the benefits of taking steps to address her hearing loss, while the other is scarier, highlighting the significant risks of untreated hearing loss. Try one or both lists, but be sure to tailor them to your particular situation.
Take Steps To Address Your Hearing Loss
- Better communication
- Enjoy friends and family again
- Attend the theater or a movie
- Watch TV with less struggle
- Learn something new.
- Admitting you have a hearing loss can be stigmatized
- Hearing aids require effort and practice
- The problem will not be solved, but the difficulties will lessen
- Hearing aids can be expensive
- Change is hard.
Ignore Your Hearing Loss
- Nobody will know your secret, but they probably know already
- Are there others?
- Higher risk of dementia
- Higher risk of other health problems
- Increasing distance from people you love.
Offer your support. You must be willing to change too.
When someone in the family has a hearing loss, it impacts everyone. Show her that you are willing to make changes too. Follow communication best practices to help her hear her best. Ask her what else you can do to help. Help her educate herself about what she can do to enhance her communication skills. Some ideas are here.
Suggest she connect with other people with hearing loss through a local Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) chapter. Finding a peer group will help her feel less alone with her struggles. It made a world of difference for me.
Readers, what suggestions do you have for talking to your relatives about hearing loss?