Kids are adventurous and curious about the world around them. When it comes to hearing aids, they may ask you countless questions about what is in your ear and why it’s there. Engaging them and explaining the basics of hearing loss from the beginning may help with their own hearing care, and it could be fun bonding for you and your grandchildren!
To begin, you should talk about what it means to get older and about the types of things that happen to the body over time. There are entertaining resources out there that can help you simplify such a complicated process, such as TED-Ed and the “Seniors Are Cool” video program. Teaching your grandkids that getting older isn’t so scary can help them cope with all the changes that might be happening in their older grandparent’s life. You can then delve into hearing loss and its causes. At this stage, you can explain that most hearing loss is caused by age, but another culprit is overexposure to loud sounds. They can prevent hearing loss in their own life through turning down the volume on their music, wearing earplugs in loud places, and checking in with an audiologist when there is a problem.
Most kids have the desire to explore—to get their hands on foreign objects and test them out on their own. Depending on the age of your grandchild, you can take out your hearing aid and let them hold the device in their hands. You can explain the amplifier, the receiver, and the microphone and show how the pieces work in conjunction to bring outside sounds into your ear at a louder volume. While it may not be a good idea to let them put the devices in their ears, letting them see the mechanics can reduce any stigma towards hearing aids and get them excited about hearing.
In order to have your grandchildren truly understand what the hearing aids do for you, it could be fun to play a game involving their own hearing. You could start with a standard game of Telephone, where one person comes up with a phrase that they whisper to the person next to them who whispers it to the person next to them, and so on down the line. Once the phrase reaches the last person in the line, you can see how whispering can make it tough to determine what people are saying and how important good hearing is to understanding messages. Your hearing aids not only help you hear what’s going on around you, but also lend understanding and meaning to the words. Another game you could play is with ear bud headphones. Have your grandchild turn the volume to zero on their favorite song. As they turn up the volume, explain how hearing aids also turn up the volume on the sounds around you and block out unnecessary sounds just like their headphones. Through this practice, they can see what its like to live in your world with hearing aids.
Engage your grandchildren from an early age, and they will have a better understanding of hearing loss, as well as a stronger bond with you!