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December 3, 2015

Talking about Hearing Loss this Holiday Season

We love the holiday season because it’s often one of those rare times when the whole family is gathered together. It’s a time to catch up and hear about all the things going on in each other’s lives, and spend time with those who matter most. But it can also be a time when you notice your grandparents’ or parents’ age is affecting their hearing.

Helping a family member on the path to better hearing isn’t just beneficial to enjoying more years of conversations with them. Studies also show that the use of hearing aids can prevent cognitive decline and dementia.

When family members play a role in their loved ones hearing journey, they see better hearing outcomes overall.

“Hearing health impacts everyone involved in the life of someone challenged with hearing issues, especially family and loved ones,” according to Prof. Hickson, Head of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at The University of Queensland.

However,  if you notice that grandma can’t hear around the table like she used to, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should start discussing her health during dinner. It can be a sensitive issue to address.

Here are some useful tips to help you start the conversation about hearing loss, from Phonak:

Choose the right location


Choose a location which is private, comfortable and free from background noise. A familiar place like their own home is a good option. 

Speak clearly

Close-up of senior woman talking with doctor

Make sure they can see your face, and speak clearly. They might already be lip-reading, so speaking slowly and calmly will help you get your concerns across. 

Show compassion

A young hand holding an elderly pair of hands

It’s common for someone to deny their hearing loss. It’s helpful to discuss how advances in technology have changed the way hearing aids look and perform. While many young people are embracing hearing technology, the elderly may think they still need to wear those big, bulky, beige hearing aids they grew up seeing. Show them some new options, such as the discrete Phonak Virto V custom hearing aid or the sleek Audéo V, which comes in 11 elegant colors. 

Share how their hearing loss impacts you 


The spouse or family of someone with hearing loss usually has to take the role of the voice in group conversations. Another factor is the element of danger as the person affected might not hear a cry for help. Explaining these and other scenarios can shed light on the topic and help in encouraging your loved one to take the relevant steps to better hearing.

Communicate the urgency of treating hearing loss


There are numerous documented cases resulting from hearing loss. Some people become socially reclusive and avoid going out due to difficulties interacting with others in challenging listening situations. Other cases have included depression or a decline in cognitive functions. A new scientific longitudinal study shows that those who use hearing aids have about the same cognitive level as those with no hearing loss. Just like exercise, hearing keeps your brain energized, hence it’s of utmost importance to support a friend or family member overcome personal obstacles related to hearing loss.

Be a partner in the process. Travel the journey and discover sounds together.

Take a free, 3-minute online hearing test 

Author Details
The HearingLikeMe editorial team includes Jill Blocker von Bueren and Lisa Goldstein.