My grandmother refuses to buy hearing aids

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a teenage girl. I have concerns about my grandmother, who is in her 60s. She is physically very well, but increasingly having difficulty hearing. She can’t sustain a conversation if she talks to someone speaking in a normal voice. I’ve urged her to buy hearing aids and wear them, but she won’t listen.

It seems my grandmother sometimes wears hearing aids that her father used to use. However, they are useless because they don’t address my grandmother’s type of hearing loss.

Elderly people develop problems with their hearing, nothing can be done about that and it’s nothing to worry about. But because she often has trouble hearing, my grandfather and mother at times snap at her. When this happens and I’m nearby, both my grandmother and I feel awful.

How can we solve this problem in order to facilitate communication among family members? I would appreciate some advice.

— R, Gunma Prefecture

Dear Ms. R:

What a family-minded, senior citizen-friendly young person you are! I’m very glad that you sought my advice.

Actually, I’m 90 years old, much older than your grandmother, and I recently purchased hearing aids and have started using them.

The reason is that I had trouble hearing people’s voices during meetings, interviews and other such occasions. However, with the aids, my hearing has improved a great deal, and I’m now thinking about continuing my social activities a little longer. Communication with my family members has also become smoother.

The world of hearing aids seems to be advancing constantly. However, prices of the products vary. I believe that the usability and quality of hearing aids also vary from user to user. There seem to be more stores at which people can find hearing aids that are appropriate for each person’s conditions, so why not visit one of these shops with your grandmother to gather information?

I respect your effort to facilitate close communication among family members. To avoid hurting your grandmother’s pride, say to her: “I want to have more conversations with you, grandma. I have so many things to tell you, so I want you to try hearing aids.” Please try that approach. Your grandmother might think, “If that’s the case,” and perhaps change her mind.

— HKeiko Higuchi, critic