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Tips for Talking to Dad When He Can’t Hear Well

06/04/2015

Thanks to Jennifer Gehlen, Au.D., for contributing this week’s blog post.

Father’s Day is our annual opportunity to celebrate Dad by showing appreciation for all the hard work, dedication, support, and love he’s given us over the years. It’s a time to get together and laugh, reminisce, and swap stories whether he is local and can get together for a meal, or far away and a phone or video call is required. It’s also during holidays like these that hearing difficulties can become more apparent.

You may notice Dad’s hearing loss first

Family members are often the first to notice hearing loss in a loved one, as they compare past experiences to noticeable changes over time. It is also common to witness a loved one’s withdrawal from family social situations because of hearing difficulties. It is important to be aware that the problem doesn’t only affect the person with the hearing loss — it affects the relationships with that person, as well.

Maybe you have you heard this from Dad before: “I can hear, just not at parties or restaurants.” This is usually the case but often it’s not a question of hearing so much as an inability to process speech properly. This causes a lack of understanding that results in frustration for all involved. Untreated hearing loss has been attributed to causing anxiety, isolation, depression, balance issues, and other health-related problems. (March 2014, JAMA O-HNS)

Still not sure if your father has hearing loss? Here are some common signs to watch out for:

Until he does seek treatment for hearing loss, here are some tips to for improving conversations with your father (or other loved ones):

Getting Dad to do something about hearing loss

So, how do you get your father to take action and do something about his hearing loss? Subtle, but respectful hints may just do the trick in getting him to take the first step and have a hearing test. If you ask him to count the number of times he asks others to repeat what they said or when he just didn’t quite get the gist of a whole conversation, it may just open his eyes to the problem.

The good news is hearing aid technology has reached a point of being able to provide great benefit and comfort to most people with hearing loss. The ease with which amplification can be accepted and worn in even the most difficult, noisy situations has been a confidence-booster for many folks who have resisted trying hearing aids. Today, most people who choose to wear amplification are pleasantly surprised and wonder why they put it off as long as they did.

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