Chronicle of a deaf audiologist

How Can You Convince Someone to Get Hearing Aids?

Do you know someone who has hearing loss, but refuses to get hearing aids? How do you convince someone to get hearing aids?

There are links between untreated hearing loss and depression, reduced earning power, and overall poorer quality of life.

That’s alarming.

But facts such as these will not convince someone to get hearing aids. Or convince someone who already has hearing aids to start wearing them.

I know that in my gut. You can’t convince people with facts. Yet I see these facts “used” by the hearing healthcare industry to make an argument for hearing aids.

Why won’t this work? We respond to feelings, not to facts.

Ditch the facts. They won’t help.

Photo credit:  © Jeffrey Banke

The answer lies in the book, Switch: How to Change When Change is Hard, by Dan and Chip Heath. It has to do with elephants. The elephant is the emotional part of the brain that says, “Let’s go!” The elephant is the fuel for action and change.

When you talk to the elephant about hearing loss, appeal to the emotion. How did he feel when he missed the jokes at the family Christmas dinner? When he can’t hear his adorable grandson on the telephone, does it bother him? What would be the worst case scenario if he did nothing about these difficulties? What would be the worst case scenario if he took action, but was not successful? What is the best possible outcome?

The challenge is getting the elephant moving, even if movement is slow at first. When a task feels too big, the elephant will resist. Big changes come from a succession of small changes. It’s okay if the first changes seem almost trivial.

So, baby steps are important. There are lots of small things that one can do before or after taking the huge step of getting hearing aids.

This is what I am getting at with communication strategies. If you make a small change like admitting that you didn’t hear, and asking other people to slow down, you start down a whole new path. The path is called: taking responsibility for your hearing loss.

Likewise with lipreading, or auditory training. These are also steps towards better communication. Before, during, or after getting hearing aids.

Baby steps, baby steps, baby steps. Keep going!

Would love your perspective on this.  Please add a comment.

Related post: Start with Small Changes


  • Photo credit:  © Alan Fortune

    Sandra Vandenhoff

    Dr. Sandra Vandenhoff is an audiologist with hearing loss, founder of HEARa, Hearing Rehabilitation teacher, and Canadian author, who does not remember saying on her first day of wearing hearing aids: "Mom, I can hear my shoelaces!"

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