It’s something lots of people suffer with, but most don’t want to talk about – hearing loss and its effect on personal relationships. Both partners can feel aggravated by the misunderstandings that are caused by hearing loss.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner isn’t it the perfect opportunity to express your love and appreciation for your loved one? Discussing hearing loss together is an ideal way to do this.
Having “the talk”
Studies have revealed that a person with untreated hearing loss is 2.4 times more likely to experience dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. When the region of your brain used for hearing becomes less active, it can start a cascade effect that can impact your whole brain. 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 with hearing loss are almost twice that of an individual with healthy hearing. People often become stressed and agitated as their hearing loss progresses according to research. The person could begin to separate themselves from family and friends. As they sink deeper into sadness, people who have hearing loss are likely to stop participating in the activities they once enjoyed.
Relationships between family, friends, and others then become strained. It’s important to be patient and work together to determine solutions to communication challenges.
Your loved one may not be ready to inform you they are developing hearing loss. They may feel shame and fear. Denial may have set in. Deciding when to have the talk could take a bit of detective work.
Here are some external clues you will need to depend on because you can’t hear what other people are hearing:
- Repeated misunderstandings
- Avoiding busy places
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other sounds that you don’t hear
- Avoiding conversations
- Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
- Not hearing vital sounds, such as the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or someone calling their name
- Watching television with the volume really high
- School, work, and hobbies are starting to become difficult
Watch for these prevalent symptoms and plan on having a heart-to-heart conversation with your loved one.
How to discuss hearing loss
This discussion might not be an easy one to have. A loved one could become defensive and brush it off if they’re in denial. That’s why it’s essential to approach hearing loss in a sensitive and appropriate way. 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 value your relationship.
- Step 2: You’re worried about their health. You’ve read through the studies. You’re aware that untreated hearing loss can lead to an increased chance of depression and dementia. You don’t want your loved one to go through that.
- Step 3: You’re also concerned about your own health and safety. An overly loud TV could damage your hearing. Also, your relationship can be impacted, as studies have shown that overly loud noise can cause anxiety. If you have an intruder in your house or you’ve taken a fall, your partner might not hear you calling for help. People relate to others through emotion. Merely listing facts won’t have as much impact 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: Be ready for opposition. These could occur anywhere in the process. This is a person you know well. What kind of objections will they have? Money? Time? Doesn’t notice an issue? Do they think they can utilize do-it-yourself remedies? (“Natural hearing loss remedies” are not effective and can even be harmful.)
Have your answers prepared beforehand. Even a little practice can’t hurt. 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 partner isn’t willing to talk about their hearing loss, it can be difficult. Developing a plan to deal with potential communication problems and the effect hearing loss can have on your relationship will help both partners have confidence that their concerns will be heard and understood. In this way, your relationship will get stronger and your partner will take steps to live a longer, healthier life. Growing together – isn’t that what love is all about?