Most people don’t want to talk about the impact hearing loss has on relationships, even though it’s a problem many people cope with. Hearing loss can create communication hurdles that result in misunderstandings and frustration for both partners.
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner isn’t it the perfect opportunity to express your love and appreciation for your loved one? Talking about hearing loss together is a great way to do this.
Having “the talk”
Studies have found that an individual with untreated hearing loss is 2.4 times more likely to experience dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. A cascade effect that will inevitably impact the entire brain will be initiated when the region of your brain in charge of hearing becomes less active. This is referred to as brain atrophy by doctors. You know how the old saying goes, “use it or lose it”.
Depression numbers among people who have hearing loss are nearly twice that of a person who has healthy hearing. Research shows that as a person’s hearing loss gets worse, they frequently become anxious and agitated. This can lead to the person being self isolated from friends and family. As they sink deeper into depression, people with hearing loss are likely to avoid participating in the activities they once enjoyed.
This, as a result, can result in relationship strain among mother and son, daughter and father, close friends, spouses, and others in this person’s life. It’s essential to be patient and work together to determine solutions to communication challenges.
Your loved one might not be ready to let you know they are developing hearing loss. They may feel embarrassment and fear. Denial might have set in. Deciding when to have the talk may take a little detective work.
Because you can’t hear what your spouse or parent hears, you’ll have to rely on outward clues, like:
- Avoiding conversations
- Complaining about ringing, humming, static, or other noises that you can’t hear
- Repeated misunderstandings
- Sudden difficulty with work, hobbies, or school
- Not hearing important sounds, like the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or someone calling their name
- Avoiding busy places
- Agitation or anxiety in social settings that you haven’t previously observed
- Turning the volume way up on your TV
Look for these common symptoms and plan to have a heart-to-heart chat with your loved one.
How to talk about hearing loss
Having this discussion might not be easy. A partner in denial may brush it off or become defensive. That’s why approaching hearing loss in an appropriate manner is so crucial. You might need to modify your language based on your unique relationship, but the steps will be more or less the same.
- Step 1: Inform them how much you love them without condition and how much you appreciate your relationship.
- Step 2: The state of their health is very important to you. You’ve read through the research. You’re aware that untreated hearing loss can lead to an increased chance of depression and dementia. You don’t want that for your loved one.
- Step 3: Your own safety and health are also a concern. An overly loud television could harm your hearing. In addition, studies show that elevated noise can cause anxiety, which might affect your relationship. Your loved one might not hear you yelling for help if you’ve fallen or somebody’s broken into the house. People relate to others through emotion. If you can paint an emotional picture of the what-ifs, it will have more impact than merely listing facts.
- Step 4: Agree together to make an appointment to get a hearing test. Do it right away after making the decision. Don’t hold off.
- Step 5: There might be some opposition so be prepared. 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? Maybe they don’t detect that it’s a problem. Do they think they can use homemade methods? (“Natural hearing loss remedies” aren’t effective and can even be harmful.)
Be prepared with your responses. Even a little practice can’t hurt. They don’t need to match those listed above word-for-word, but they should address your loved one’s concerns.
If your partner is unwilling to talk about their hearing loss, it can be difficult. Developing a plan to deal with potential communication challenges and the effect hearing loss can have on your relationship will help both partners have confidence that their worries will be heard and understood. By having this conversation, you’ll grow closer and get your partner the help they need to live a longer, healthier, more fulfilling life. And relationships are, after all, about growing together.