The majority of people don’t want to talk about the impact hearing loss has on relationships, even though it’s an issue many people cope with. Both partners can feel frustrated by the misunderstandings that are caused by hearing loss.
This is the perfect time for you to show your love and appreciation for your loved one with Valentine’s Day right around the corner. Discussing hearing loss together is a great way to do this.
Having “the talk”
A person with untreated hearing loss has a 2.4 times more likely chance of developing cognitive disorders including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease according to some studies. A cascade effect that will ultimately impact the entire brain will be initiated when the part of your brain in charge of hearing becomes less active. Doctors call this brain atrophy. You know how the old saying goes, “use it or lose it”.
Depression rates among individuals with hearing loss are nearly twice that of a person who has healthy hearing. Studies have shown that as a person’s hearing loss progresses, they frequently become anxious and agitated. The person may start to seclude themselves from family and friends. They are also likely to avoid getting involved in the activities they used to enjoy as they fall deeper into a state of depression.
This, in turn, can lead to relationship strain among mother and son, daughter and father, close friends, spouses, and other people in this person’s life. Communication issues need to be managed with patients and compassion.
Your loved one might not be ready to tell you they are developing hearing loss. They might feel embarrassment and fear. They may be in denial. Deciding when to have the conversation could take a bit of detective work.
Here are some external clues you will need to depend on because you can’t hear what other people are hearing:
- School, work, and hobbies are starting to become difficult
- Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
- Not hearing vital sounds, like the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or someone calling their name
- Cranking the volume way up on your TV
- Frequent misunderstandings
- Avoiding conversations
- Avoiding busy places
- Complaining about ringing, humming, static, or other sounds that you can’t hear
Watch for these prevalent symptoms and plan on having a heart-to-heart chat with your loved one.
What is the best way to talk about hearing loss?
Having this conversation may not be easy. A loved one may become defensive and brush it off if they’re in denial. That’s why discussing hearing loss in an appropriate manner is so relevant. The steps will be basically the same but possibly with some slight alterations based on your particular relationship situation.
- Step 1: Let them know that you love them without condition and value your relationship.
- Step 2: You are concerned about their health. You’ve seen the research. You’re aware that untreated hearing loss can lead to a higher chance of dementia and depression. You don’t want your loved one to deal with that.
- Step 3: You’re also worried about your own safety and health. An excessively loud TV could harm your hearing. Also, your relationship can be impacted, as studies have shown that excessively loud noise can trigger anxiety. Your loved one may not hear you yelling for help if you have a fall or someone’s broken into the house. People connect with others through emotion. Merely listing facts won’t be as impactful as painting an emotional picture.
- Step 4: Schedule an appointment to have your hearing tested together. After you make the decision make an appointment as soon as possible. Don’t delay.
- Step 5: Be ready for objections. These could occur at any time in the process. This is a person you know well. What will their objections be? Will it be lack of time, or money? Maybe they don’t detect that it’s an issue. Do they think they can utilize homemade remedies? (“Natural hearing loss remedies” aren’t effective and can even be harmful.)
Be ready with your responses. Even a bit of rehearsal can’t hurt. These answers need to address your loved one’s Worries but they don’t need to match those listed above word-for-word
Talking about hearing loss isn’t easy if your partner doesn’t want to talk about it. Openly discussing the effect of hearing loss on your relationship can help to establish a plan to address any communication issues and ensure that both partners are heard and understood. By doing this, your relationship will grow stronger and your loved one will take measures to live a longer, healthier life. And relationships are, after all, about growing together.