You care deeply about your loved ones and want to do something to show them? Listen to your loved ones, truly listen. But you need to be able to hear in order to really listen.
Research demonstrates one out of three adults between 65 and 74 is enduring hearing loss and millions would benefit from using a hearing aid. But only 30% of those people actually wear hearing aids, regrettably.
Diminishing hearing, depression, higher instances of dementia, and strained relationships are some consequences of this inaction. Many individuals coping with hearing loss simply suffer in silence.
But spring is almost here. Spring should be a time when we take pleasure in blossoming flowers, emerging leaves, starting new things, and getting closer to loved ones. Talking frankly about hearing loss can be a great way to renew relationships.
Having “The Talk” is Important
Studies have revealed that an person with untreated hearing loss is 2.4 times more likely to experience dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. When the part of your brain responsible for hearing becomes less active, it can initiate a cascade effect that can impact your entire brain. Doctors call this brain atrophy. It’s the “use it or lose it” principle in action.
Individuals with hearing loss have nearly two times as many instances of depression than people who have normal hearing. Research reveals that as a person’s hearing loss gets worse, they often become stressed and agitated. Isolation from friends and family is often the consequence. They’re prone to stop including themselves in the activities they once enjoyed as they sink deeper into a state of depression.
Strained relationships between friends and family members is often the result of this separation.
Solving The Puzzle
Your loved one might not be ready to reveal that they are developing hearing loss. They could be afraid or embarrassed. They could be in denial. You might need to do a little detective work to decide when it’s time to have the conversation.
Since you are unable to hear what your loved one hears, you’ll have to use external cues, including:
- Avoiding busy places
- Avoiding conversations
- Important sounds, like someone calling their name, a doorbell, or a warning alarm are often missed
- Irritation or anxiousness in social settings that you haven’t previously observed
- Complaining about ringing, humming, static, or other noises that you don’t hear
- Turning the volume way up on the TV
- Misunderstanding situations more often
- School, hobbies, and work are suddenly becoming harder
Plan to have a heart-to-heart conversation with your loved one if you detect any of these common symptoms.
How to Talk About Hearing Loss
Having this conversation might not be easy. A companion in denial might brush it off or become defensive. That’s why approaching hearing loss in the proper manner is so important. You may need to adjust your language based on your distinct relationship, but the steps will be the same for the most part.
Step 1: Make them aware that you value your relationship and have unconditional love for them.
Step 2: Their health is important to you and you’re concerned. You’ve gone over the studies. You’re aware of the higher dementia risk and depression that come with untreated hearing loss. You don’t want that for your loved one.
Step 3: Your own health and safety are also a worry. Your hearing can be harmed by excessively high volumes on the TV and other devices. Additionally, research has shown that elevated noise can cause anxiety, which may impact your relationship. If somebody has broken into your home, or you yell for help, your loved one may not hear you.
Emotion is a key part of strong communication. If you can paint an emotional picture of what might happen, it’s more impactful than merely listing facts.
Step 4: Come to an understanding that it’s time for a hearing assessment. After deciding, make the appointment as soon as possible. Don’t wait.
Step 5: Be ready for objections. At any time during the process, they may have these objections. This is someone you know well. What will they object to? Costs? Time? Do they not acknowledge a problem? Are they considering trying out home remedies? You know “natural hearing loss cures” don’t really work and could do more harm than good.
Be prepared with your responses. You could even rehearse them in the mirror. They don’t have to be those listed above word-for-word, but they should answer your loved one’s doubts.
Grow Your Relationship
If your loved one is reluctant to talk, it can be a tricky situation. But by having this discussion, you’ll grow closer and get your loved one the help they need to live a longer, healthier, more fulfilling life. Growing closer – isn’t that what love is all about?