Tips for Discussing Hearing Loss with Your Loved One

Tips for Discussing Hearing Loss with Your Loved One

Signs you may have noticed

The medical term for age-related hearing loss is presbycusis. Because this type of hearing loss is usually slow and gradual over time it often goes unnoticed until it starts to disrupt daily life.

There are a number of signs you might notice with your loved one before they notice it themselves.

  • Your loved one may be increasingly asking you to repeat yourself in conversations. A growing amount of “what?” and “huh?” in a conversation is a sign that they are not understanding everything you say.
  • They might miss a comment altogether. For example, if you say something when you walk into the room without them facing you or if you make a comment while they are focused on something else, your loved one may not hear you at all.
  • The TV started to get louder. You may notice the volume on the television is starting to get louder or maybe they have started to rely on subtitles. Small changes to everyday habits are things that can mask a gradual hearing loss.
  • Your loved one may start avoiding conversations altogether, especially phone calls. When hearing and understanding become more difficult, those with hearing loss tend to start pulling away from conversations. This is particularly true for phone conversations, where hearing is paramount to understanding.

Approaching the subject

Age-related hearing loss is often a sensitive subject. For some, it means accepting the possible changes of growing older.

How you approach the topic with your loved one is crucial to their acceptance and willingness to address the issue.

  • Start conversations with “I”. It has been noted that when approaching a difficult conversation, starting your sentences with “I” instead of “You” can result in a more favorable reception. For example, saying “I’ve noticed you are avoiding talking on the phone” or “I can see that you are struggling to hear the television” would likely be better received than “You won’t talk on the phone” or “You keep the television so loud”. The “you” statements can sound more aggressive when that is not your intention.
  • Don’t get mad. Difficulty hearing and understanding conversations is a frustrating and isolating experience. Your loved one may be struggling to come to terms with their hearing changes while simultaneously dealing with outside pressure to “fix” the issue. Allow them the time and space to address their hearing loss on their terms.
  • It may take a few times to sink in. These conversations may happen repeatedly. Acceptance tends to be a process and then choosing to take action is another step entirely. It is important to be patient throughout this progression.
  • Be supportive and positive. There are options for people with hearing loss. Offer to help find a provider or make an appointment. Go with your loved one but allow them to speak for themselves at the appointment. You can also make it a family appointment. Have everyone get their hearing checked together, it may take some of the pressure off your loved one.

Coping strategies

The time it takes between discussing hearing loss with your loved one for the first time and when they decide to take action could be quite a bit of time.

There are several strategies you can implement during this adjustment period.

  • When speaking to your loved one with hearing loss make sure to face them and be at eye level if possible. Do not just walk into a room and start talking while they are facing another direction.
  • Make sure your environment is well-lit and free of as much background noise as possible. Dark rooms and loud restaurants are not conducive to hearing well.
  • Do not yell, instead speak clearly and at a normal cadence. When we begin to raise our voices, it changes the normal flow of the conversation and makes it harder for the person with hearing loss to understand us.
  • Be patient. Ultimately, your loved one gets to decide when and how they wish to treat their hearing loss and that may not be how you envision it. Listen to them and the issues that they are facing and work together to find a solution.


When you and your loved one are ready for hearing consultation and to discuss options for treatment, make an appointment with one of our providers.