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Starkey 2014 Hearing Innovations Expo Tells How to Encourage a Loved One to Hear Better.

While at the Starkey Hearing Expo in Las Vegas recently, I was able to attend several interesting and thought provoking break-out sessions. One such session was led by Larry Miller, Senior Vice President of Human Resources. The session was titled Managing Change: Aim for Innovation. While, the majority of the information was about change in the business world and how to motivate those around you, several points were very relevant when trying to encourage a loved one; be it spouse, parent, grandparent or even child; to pursue hearing aids. If you think about, it is a change for them and they are not always “on board”. Maybe the way we approach the topic of hearing aids and encourage that person needs to be examined. I will not hit all of his points, but the ones I felt that most applicable to the sometimes difficult task of motivating a change in loved ones towards hearing aids.

  1. Communicate the Vision: Communicate the 5 W’s of change: who, what, when, where and WHY! For many, simply telling the loved one “you need a hearing aid” is not enough to convince them. They know “the who” you are referring to and “the what”, but how about the “when, where and why”? Do they understand “when” you notice they aren’t hearing/understanding as well? “Where” do you notice the problem; at home, out at dinner at a worship service; all of the above? And finally, do they know “why” you are talking to them about this issue. The most important is the WHY. Is it understood that you want them to continue living life to the fullest; do they understand that you want to be able to communicate with them more easily; do they understand it can reduce the likelihood of early onset Alzheimer’s? Do they know WHY or are we just yelling at them to get their hearing checked?
  2. Empower others to act on the vision: Remove obstacles and enable constructive feedback. So you have communicated the WHY, now it’s time to talk about how to go about it. Do you know someone who has hearing aids or been able to get a referral to an Audiologist? Once you have them onboard as to WHY you want them to get their hearing checked, be able to provide them names and/or numbers to someone trusted. If they wish, make the appointment for them and go with them if possible. Encourage them to be actively involved in the process. They more they are, the better the outcome is likely to be.
  3. Recognize the impact of change on resources and allow resistance to be communicated. Hearing aids are not inexpensive and this does need to be kept in mind. When asking a loved one to look into the process, be prepared for the expense and let the person express how they feel about that. Hopefully, the expense is one that can be afforded either directly out of pocket or by means of a payment plan, but let them choose the technology level they are most comfortable with. Remember, they are the ones that will be wearing the hearing aids.
  4. Maintain a communication strategy. Be prepared to communicate with your loved ones. Ask them how they are hearing; are they experiencing any discomfort; are they wearing the hearing aids, why or why not? If there is anything that is troubling them, be sure to communicate with their Audiologist so the problems can be addressed.

Hopefully, I was able to express to you how to communicate to the sometimes “difficult” loved one that they may need a change, how to be prepared to help them make the change and how to implement the change. Again, these were initially regarding making changes in business, but I think they are applicable to our personal lives as well. Forcing anyone through the process is never successful.

Good luck!

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Dr. Angela Schenk, Gardner Audiologist

Dr. Angela Schenk, Gardner Audiologist

Doctor of Audiology from A.T. Still University