Sometimes it's hard to help people help themselves. For many of us with elderly parents, grandparents or friends, this is especially true at some point or another.

Whether its poor health, senility or loss of hearing, the first and most difficult step is getting them to admit they have a problem. There are many reasons an elderly person would not want to admit that he has developed an impairment, even if it needs fixing.

Coming to the realization that your hearing has begun to deteriorate is also coming to the realization that you are getting older and less able. Getting older is something that most people struggle with most of their lives. Admitting to having an age-related problem feels to many like admitting weaknesses and can be embarrassing. We also have to remember that many of our parents and grandsparents came from a generation that valued self-reliance and was not raised to ask others for help.

But how do you get from the part where you're repeatedly yelling the same thing into his ear to the part where he's getting fitted for a new hearing aid?

First, the person must be persuaded to partake in a hearing test.

He may be afraid he will end up wearing hearing aid that is bulky and embarrassing to wear in public. Explain to him that new technology has allowed for smaller hearing aids, some of which are even small enough to fit almost invisibly inside the ear.

Explain to him that a hearing impairment can be a safety concern, especially if he lives alone. There are a dozen ways our hearing helps us survive day-to-day life. A person with limited hearing behind the wheel of a car may miss someone honking to avoid a wreck, an ambulance trying to speed down the street or his own car signaling some kind of damage. Let him know that you love him enough to worry about him and plead with him to at least submit to a hearing test to calm your own nerves.

If you have the opportunity, see if you can convince other friends or relatives who wear hearing devices to have a chat with your loved one about their experiences. Once people finally put their reservations aside and go in for a hearing test, most are overwhelmed pleasantly with the results. Hearing is a sense that wears away very gradually. Oftentimes, when people say they can hear fine, it's because they actually do not realize they have a problem – not because they will not admit it. Once they begin to live life with restored hearing, they can see the world open up again. Hearing advice from someone who has been the same situation will be more comfortable and effective.

Try to keep in mind that one day you, too, will find yourself in his position (if you're lucky), and it will be difficult for you to come to terms with as well. Be compassionate, patient and respectful in all your efforts.