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Mom Refuses Hearing Aids

Caregiver Question

“My mother refuses to get hearing aids. She dislikes how they look and says, “Hearing aids are for old people!” Mom is 75 years old! I wonder who she thinks hearing aids are for. It doesn’t end there. We, children, constantly struggle with convincing Mom to accept necessary treatment for most of her health needs. Is there any way to make this easier?” - READER


The Caregiver Column Answer

Your mother wants to stay young in a society that celebrates youth, so it is not too surprising that she longs to be younger than 75. Indeed, she is a bit deluded, but aren’t we all in some way? It is not uncommon for our minds to reject the reality our mirrors reveal.

Oftentimes when individuals do not seek health care, it is ultimately out of fear, fear of dying from something horrible and out of our control. We imagine extreme diseases, searching the internet only to make our fears stronger. The unknown is quite anxiety-provoking. Although hearing aids are not a life-or-death scenario, realize that it can be difficult for people to accept any form of physical decline.

Since your Mother cherishes youth, it may be effective to approach conversations about treatments or necessary help from a youthful perspective. Rather than restating her need for hearing aids, approach the concept a different way. Mention subtly that her inability to participate in normal conversation makes her seem more elderly than the hearing aids, themselves. Be supportive and kind, using whatever words are most comfortable in your situation. The key here is to appeal to what motivates her, and clearly, appearing youthful is her deal. By the way, hearing aids today are barely visible.

I also recommend accompanying her during appointments if she is willing, learning everything you can. I suggest this because her hearing loss could be preventing her from fully understanding her doctor. I encourage you to observe a hearing test. It will help you appreciate her struggle.

I do not believe you will change your mother a great deal moving forward, but I do believe it is worth changing your approach. Try new strategies. Be supportive, empathize and tell the truth.

I wish you the best.

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