You love being a grandparent and you love your grandchildren. You especially love their inquisitive nature and all of the interesting questions they ask you, like:
“Why is the sky blue?”
“What happened to the dinosaurs?”
“What are those things in your ears?”
Your local natural history museum may be better suited to help explain that happened to the dinosaurs, but here are a few simple ways you can teach your grandkids about hearing loss.
Explaining Hearing Loss
The first thing to do when teaching your grandchildren about hearing loss is letting them know you have it. In fact, telling your loved ones – including your grandkids – can help make living with hearing loss easier for everyone. For younger children, a simple explanation of “My ears do not work as well as they used to like when I was your age,” can be enough to satiate their curiosity. However, older grandchildren may inquire further and be interested in learning more about hearing loss.
If your older grandkids are showing curiosity about your hearing aids, there’s no need to shy away from explaining it to them. Let them know there is a problem with one or more parts of your ear and that your hearing is not working as well as it should. You can even explain that it is an age-related hearing loss, or that it is caused by another reason affecting the inner ear, middle ear, or outer ear. This is also a good time to remind your grandchildren of the importance of protecting your ears throughout your life!
Resources, like KidsHealth, can provide a more detailed explanation for older grandchildren who may want to learn more about hearing loss and overall hearing health.
Show and Tell
Again, there’s no need to hide your hearing loss if your grandkids are curious. Conduct a mini show-and-tell with your grandchildren. Show them your hearing aid and explain to them how this device helps you hear better. Although it may look small, it is wearable technology, like a second set of ears!
Additionally, remind your grandchildren your hearing aids are only for you and are not to be worn by anyone else — including them. Everyone’s ears and hearing levels are different so your hearing aids are just for you! You may even tell them trying to wear your hearing aids would be like trying to wear someone else’s eyeglasses — everyone sees differently and it’s the same thing with hearing aids.
Teach Them How You Can Best Hear
Explain to your grandchildren it is much easier for you to hear them, and all of the exciting things they have to share, when they get your attention first. Remind them how difficult it can be to hear their Mom or Dad calling for them when they are busy playing or outside having fun with friends, but when their parents get their attention first it’s much easier to hear them.
It’s the same thing with grandma or grandpa. Remind your grandchildren if you cannot see them, then you may not be able to hear them clearly.
Practice with Playing Games
Tell your grandchildren about a simple trick that helps you hear better - lip reading. Teach them how you read lips and make a game out of it! Ask your grandchildren to cover their ears and then speak or mouth a word to them. You could try mouthing their favorite food or the color of their shirt. See if they can guess the word you said and then explain to them that seeing their lips move helps you better understand everything they have to say.
Enlist their Help
Now that your grandchildren know you experience hearing loss, you can ask them to help you hear better when you are out together. Whether you are grocery shopping for a big family dinner or taking a car trip to the local zoo, enlist their help to “hear better,” with any announcements or updates that are made while you are out together.
Model Good Hearing Health
Teach your grandchildren the importance of practicing good hearing health throughout their lives. Keep the television volume low and the car radio at a normal volume, even if they ask you to turn it up and sing their favorite song. Explain the importance of taking care of their ears and their hearing health – and that the ability to hear is a gift.
Having hearing loss doesn’t mean you need to miss out on family fun, especially with your grandchildren. If you think you need a hearing aid, find a local Connect Hearing center near you and schedule a complimentary hearing assessment today.