The majority of individuals don’t want to discuss the impact hearing loss has on relationships, even though it’s an issue many people deal with. Hearing loss can create communication hurdles that result in misunderstandings and aggravation for both partners.
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. Discussing hearing loss together is a great way to do this.
Having “the talk”
A person with neglected hearing loss has a 2.4 times more likely risk of developing cognitive disorders including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease according to some studies. A cascade effect that will eventually impact the whole brain will be initiated when the region of your brain responsible for hearing becomes less engaged. This is referred to as brain atrophy by doctors. You remember how the old saying goes, “use it or lose it”.
Depression rates are almost half in people who have normal hearing compared to those who have hearing loss. Studies have shown that as a person’s hearing loss worsens, they often become stressed and agitated. The person could start to separate themselves from friends and family. As they fall deeper into depression, people with hearing loss are likely to avoid taking part in the activities they once enjoyed.
Relationships between family, friends, and others then become strained. Communication problems need to be handled with patients and compassion.
Somebody who is experiencing hearing loss may not be ready to discuss it. They may be afraid or embarrassed. Denial might have set in. You might need to do some detective work to figure out when it’s time to have the conversation.
Since you can’t hear what your spouse or parent hears, you’ll need to rely on external cues, such as:
- Avoiding busy places
- Avoiding conversations
- Cranking the volume way up on your TV
- Sudden difficulty with work, hobbies, or school
- Frequent misunderstandings
- Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other sounds that you can’t hear
- Not hearing vital sounds, like the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or someone calling their name
Look for these prevalent symptoms and plan on having a heart-to-heart conversation with your loved one.
What is the best way to talk about hearing loss?
This talk might not be an easy one to have. A spouse in denial may brush it off or become defensive. That’s why approaching hearing loss in an appropriate manner is so important. The steps will be essentially the same but maybe with some slight modifications based on your specific relationship situation.
- Step 1: Tell them that you love them unconditionally and appreciate your relationship.
- Step 2: You’re concerned about their health. You’ve seen the research. You know that a higher risk of depression and dementia comes along with neglected hearing loss. You don’t want your loved one to go through that.
- Step 3: You’re also worried about your own health and safety. An excessively loud TV could damage your hearing. In addition, studies show that increased noise can cause anxiety, which might impact your relationship. If you have a burglar in your house or you’ve fallen down, your partner may not hear you calling for help. People connect with others through emotion. If you can paint an emotional picture of the what-ifs, it will have more impact than simply listing facts.
- Step 4: Agree together to make an appointment to get a hearing exam. Do it right away after making the decision. Don’t wait.
- Step 5: Be prepared for opposition. You could find these objections at any point 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? Maybe they don’t detect that it’s a problem. They may feel that home remedies will be good enough. (You’re aware that “natural hearing loss cures” don’t actually work and could cause more harm than good.)
Have your responses prepared beforehand. You might even rehearse them in the mirror. These responses need to address your loved one’s Worries but they don’t need to match those listed above word-for-word
If your partner is unwilling to talk about their hearing loss, it can be difficult. Openly talking about the impact of hearing loss on your relationship can help to solidify a plan to deal with any communication issues and ensure that both partners are heard and understood. By doing this, your relationship will get stronger and your partner will take steps to live a longer, healthier life. And relationships are, after all, about growing together.