The day has finally come.  Your spouse, mom, dad, brother, sister or friend has finally decided to do something about their hearing loss.  They’ll be coming home soon with their new hearing aids and you want to make sure you do everything you can to help them transition as seamlessly as possible into the hearing world.

Here are a few things you can do to make the transition process for the new hearing aid user a pleasant one.

  • Stop shouting.  Yes, you’ve spent the past 5 years raising your voice in an attempt to avoid repeating everything you say twice, but they can hear now and they’ll be annoyed if you shout.
  • Go slowly.  Do not suggest that their first foray into the hearing world be a visit to Applebee’s on a Friday night.  We all need to learn to walk before we run.  If you’d like to plan a night out, suggest a small, quiet neighborhood restaurant .
  • Did you hear that?  Do not “test” their hearing by seeing if they can hear what you can hear.  More than likely they can, but would prefer to avoid being quizzed repeatedly as to whether or not they can really “hear”.
  • Be a positive influence.  Their hearing problem did not happen over night.  In all likelihood it was a slow, gradual decline until the problem could no longer be ignored.  It will take some time to acclimate to hearing again.  Reinforce that learning to listening (learning to ignore background noise is one example) will take some time.
  • Read a little.  What is it like to have a hearing loss?  What does your loved one experience both with their hearing aids in and with their hearing aids out?  Put in a set of earplugs and watch TV or try to talk on the phone to get a little idea of what they experience.
  • Avoid comedy.  Do not under any circumstances amuse yourself at the expense of someone who is hearing impaired.  A disability is not funny.
  • Ask questions.  Is there anything you can do to make their transition into the hearing world easier?  You may be surprised at their responses…maybe the TV is now too loud for them or they never realized how loudly you chew your gum or (and this is a real possibility) maybe you should get your hearing checked.  You may have better hearing than your loved one, but that doesn’t mean your hearing is normal.

And finally, admitting a problem exists and being willing to do something about it is a big step for anyone, so don’t forget to say thank you.