Why Won't Dad Use His Hearing Aid?

A fellow caregiver asked...

My father doesn't hear me when I speak, but he keeps "forgetting" to use his hearing aid. What do I do?

Expert Answer

Carolyn Rosenblatt, R.N. and Attorney is the author of author of The Boomer's Guide to Aging Parents. She has over 40 years of combined experience in her two professions. As a nurse, she has extensive experience with geriatrics, chronic illness, pain management, dementias, disability, family dynamics, and death and dying. As a trial attorney, she advocated for for the rights of injured individuals and neglected elders. She is also co-founder of AgingParents.com.

Your father may be resisting using the hearing aid for many reasons, including all of those listed in the answer above. It can also be an emotional thing: it means he is getting old and he has to depend on a piece of equipment. Lots of people resist using hearing aids as well as other assistive devices, such as canes, walkers, etc. They don't want to be dependent. Hearing aids have many problems, including that they may feel irritating in the ear, they may amplify annoying background noise, they may not feel like natural hearing and other issues. Encouraging him to wear it for your sake because it is a struggle for you may be a helpful tactic to take. He needs to know that you respect what he has to say and you want him to be able to talk with you. You can let him know that you are aware that it is probably hard to get used to it and you can empathize. I suggest that you also communicate your respect for the reality that it is not so simple for elders to adapt to new things and you hope he will be able to get used to it. If you offer to take him back to the place where it was fitted, you may learn new things about the hearing aid to help you help him wear it better and more often.