he holiday season is here, which means it’s time to pick out the perfect gift for the people you love. If you are one of the millions of partners, children, or friends of someone with hearing loss, you might be considering a pair of hearing aids as a gift.
There are lots of things that make hearing aids an exciting gift idea. For one, they are often expensive, and if you can go in with siblings or afford them yourself, hearing aids could be a generous gift. People also consider hearing aids as a gift to help someone take the plunge when they are otherwise hesitant.
While the idea of giving a pair of hearing aids as a gift is incredibly generous, it can be a little complicated. In this article, I’ll outline a few questions to ask yourself before springing for a pair of hearing aids on someone else’s behalf. I’ll also share a few ideas for how you might support a hard-of-hearing person if you decide a gift isn’t the right approach.
So are hearing aids a good gift?
The fact that you are even considering giving someone you love a pair of hearing aids demonstrates how much you care. As someone who waited more than 10 years to buy my first pair, I commend that. Before you decide, though, I’d recommend starting with a few questions. The answers to these questions should clear things up.
Have you talked to this person about hearing aids in the past? How did they respond?
If you haven’t ever discussed hearing aids with this person, you should probably consider having a conversation before offering the gift.
If you have talked to them and they’ve resisted, what’s holding them back?
If you have talked about hearing aids and your loved one has resisted, try to understand what might be holding them back. A gift can help remove financial pressures but is unlikely to change the hesitations they have about comfort or how the hearing aids will look or make them feel.
Most people take a while to adjust to the idea of wearing hearing aids for the first time, so you’ll need to consider that if you do purchase hearing aids as a gift, the process of mentally and emotionally adjusting could take months.
Do they own hearing aids already?
If the gift recipient already has hearing aids and is due for an upgrade or looking for features like built-in Bluetooth or rechargeable batteries, a new and improved hearing aid could be a great gift. There will still be an adjustment period, and there’s a chance the new model might need to be returned or swapped for something else. Still, you are far less likely to encounter the mental and emotional process that is common with many first time hearing aid wearers.
Are they ready to commit to the process of hearing aid adjustment, and are you prepared to help them?
Suppose the gift receiver doesn’t own a pair of hearing aids already. In that case, the process of getting their hearing tested, choosing and brand or audiology provider and adjusting to the sound of the hearing aids can take months and can be frustrating at times. Before choosing to gift someone a pair of hearing aids, ensure that they are ready for this process, and you are ready to support them beyond the initial gift-giving occasion.
Will the gift be given publicly?
If you’ve considered the questions above and are ready to give the generous gift of hearing aids to someone you love, the last important consideration is when and where you will give the gift. Most likely, this is the type of gift that is best given in an intimate setting where the receiver can give honest feedback and you as the giver can re-enforce your commitment to work through the process with them.
Other ways to support someone who is hard-of-hearing
If you decide that giving a pair of hearing aids as a gift isn’t a good fit for your circumstances, there are numerous other ways you can support the person you love in their hearing journey. I waited for years to address my hearing loss, and these are some of the steps that those around me took to help me move forward.
- Offer to book and attend the audiologist appointment with them.
- Research hearing aid options and share them in an organized fashion.
- Ask lots of questions and talk through what might happen and how you will be there if the hearing aids don’t work. Many people (myself included) worry about spending money on something that might not work.
- Share research about hearing aids that help normalize them.
- Read up on hearing aid experiences and hearing loss in general. I love this post from Sheri Eberts and these tips from Bloom Hearing.