It’s something a lot of individuals suffer with, but few want to talk about – hearing loss and its impact on personal relationships. Hearing loss can create communication obstacles that lead to misunderstandings and aggravation for both partners.
This is the ideal time for you to show your love and appreciation for your loved one with Valentine’s Day just around the corner. A wonderful way to do this is to have a discussion about your hearing loss.
Having “the talk”
Studies have found that an individual with untreated hearing loss is 2.4 times more likely to develop dementia, and that includes Alzheimer’s disease. A cascade effect that will inevitably impact the entire brain will be initiated when the part of your brain responsible for hearing becomes less engaged. Doctors refer to this as brain atrophy. You remember how the old saying goes, “use it or lose it”.
Depression numbers amongst those who have hearing loss are nearly twice that of a person with healthy hearing. Individuals frequently become stressed and agitated as their hearing loss progresses according to research. This can result in the person being self isolated from friends and family. As they sink deeper into depression, people who have hearing loss are likely to avoid engaging in the activities they once enjoyed.
Relationships between family, friends, and others then become strained. Communication issues need to be managed with patients and compassion.
Your loved one might not be ready to inform you they’re developing hearing loss. They might be afraid or embarrassed. They could be in denial. You might need to do a bit of detective work to determine when it’s time to have the conversation.
Since you can’t hear what your partner or parent hears, you’ll need to rely on outward clues, like:
- Avoiding conversations
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other noises that you can’t hear
- Avoiding busy places
- Repeated misunderstandings
- Not hearing significant sounds, like the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or somebody calling their name
- Agitation or anxiety in social settings that you haven’t previously observed
- Cranking the volume way up on your TV
- Sudden difficulty with work, hobbies, or school
Look for these common symptoms and plan on having a heart-to-heart talk with your loved one.
How to discuss hearing loss
Having this discussion may not be easy. A loved one might become defensive and brush it off if they’re in denial. That’s why it’s important to approach hearing loss in a sensitive and appropriate way. The steps will be essentially the same but possibly with some small modifications based on your particular relationship situation.
- Step 1: Tell 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 studies. You’re aware that neglected hearing loss can result in an increased chance of depression and dementia. You don’t want your loved one to experience that.
- Step 3: Your own safety and health are also a concern. Your hearing could be damaged by an overly loud TV. Also, your relationship can be affected, as studies have revealed that excessively loud noise can trigger anxiety. If you have an intruder in your house or you’ve fallen down, your partner may not hear you calling for help. Emotion is a strong way to connect with others. Simply listing facts won’t be as impactful as painting an emotional picture.
- Step 4: Decide together to make an appointment to get a hearing assessment. After you make the decision schedule an appointment right away. Don’t delay.
- Step 5: There may be some opposition so be ready. These could occur at any time in the process. This is a person you know well. What sort of objections will they have? Will it be lack of time, or money? Possibly they don’t see that it’s a problem. Do they think they can use do-it-yourself methods? (You recognize “natural hearing loss cures” don’t actually work and could cause more harm than good.)
Have your answers prepared beforehand. You might even practice them in the mirror. These responses need to address your loved one’s concerns but they don’t need to match those listed above word-for-word
If your spouse is unwilling to discuss their hearing loss, it can be difficult. Openly discussing the impact of hearing loss on your relationship can help to solidify a plan to address any communication challenges and ensure that both partners are heard and understood. In this way, your relationship will grow stronger and your loved one will take measures to live a longer, healthier life. Growing together – isn’t that what love is all about?