It’s something a lot of people cope with, but most don’t want to talk about – hearing loss and its impact on personal relationships. Both partners can feel frustrated by the misunderstandings that are caused by hearing loss.
This is the ideal time for you to express your love and appreciation for your loved one with Valentine’s Day right around the corner. A wonderful way to do this is to have a discussion about your hearing loss.
Having “the talk”
A person experiencing untreated hearing loss has a 2.4 times more likely risk of experiencing cognitive disorders including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease according to some studies. When the region of your brain used for hearing becomes less engaged, it can begin a cascade effect that can impact your whole brain. Doctors refer to this as brain atrophy. You know how the old saying goes, “use it or lose it”.
Depression rates are nearly half in individuals who have healthy hearing compared to those who have hearing loss. Studies have shown that as a person’s hearing loss worsens, they often become anxious and agitated. The individual may start to seclude themselves from family and friends. They are also likely to stop involving themselves in the activities they used to enjoy as they fall deeper into a state of depression.
Relationships between family, friends, and others then become strained. Communication issues need to be handled with patients and compassion.
Your loved one might not be ready to inform you they are experiencing hearing loss. They may be afraid or embarrassed. They may be in denial. You might need to do a bit of detective work to figure out when it’s time to have the talk.
Because you can’t hear what your partner or parent hears, you’ll have to rely on external cues, such as:
- Failing to hear alerts, doorbells, and other essential sounds
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other sounds that you can’t hear
- Avoiding conversations
- Cranking the volume way up on your TV
- School, work, and hobbies are starting to become difficult
- Repeated misunderstandings
- Agitation or anxiety in social settings that you haven’t previously observed
- Avoiding busy places
Look for these common symptoms and plan to have a heart-to-heart conversation with your loved one.
How to discuss hearing loss
Having this conversation might not be easy. A loved one might become defensive and brush it off if they’re in denial. That’s why discussing hearing loss in an appropriate manner is so crucial. You might need to alter your language based on your unique relationship, but the steps will be more or less the same.
- Step 1: Tell them that you love them without condition and appreciate your relationship.
- Step 2: The state of their health is important to you. You’ve seen the research. You’re aware that an increased risk of depression and dementia comes along with neglected hearing loss. You don’t want that for your loved one.
- Step 3: You’re also worried about your own health and safety. An excessively loud television could damage your hearing. Also, your relationship can be affected, as studies have shown that overly loud noise can cause anxiety. If you have an intruder in your house or you’ve fallen down, your partner might not hear you yelling for help. People connect with others through emotion. Merely listing facts won’t be as impactful as painting an emotional picture.
- Step 4: Decide together to make an appointment to get a hearing exam. Do it right away after making the decision. Don’t wait.
- Step 5: There may be some opposition so be ready. You could find these objections at any time in the process. You know this person. What will their doubts be? Will it be lack of time, or money? Perhaps they don’t detect that it’s an issue. They may feel that home remedies will be just fine. (You’re aware that “natural hearing loss cures” don’t actually work and could do more harm than good.)
Be ready with your responses. You may even practice them in the mirror. These responses need to address your loved one’s Worries but they don’t have to match those listed above word-for-word
If your spouse isn’t willing to talk about their hearing loss, it can be challenging. Openly talking about the effect of hearing loss on your relationship can help to solidify a plan to address any communication issues and make sure that both partners are heard and understood. By having this discussion, you’ll grow closer and get your loved one the help they need to live a longer, healthier, more rewarding life. Growing together – isn’t that what love is all about?