It’s something lots of individuals 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.
This is the perfect time for you to express 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”
A person with untreated hearing loss has a 2.4 times more likely risk of developing cognitive conditions including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease according to some studies. When the region of your brain responsible for hearing becomes less engaged, it can begin a cascade effect that can affect your entire brain. This is called brain atrophy by doctors. It’s the “use it or lose it” concept in action.
Depression rates are nearly half in people who have normal hearing compared to those who have hearing loss. Research shows that as a person’s hearing loss gets worse, they frequently become anxious and agitated. The person may start to seclude themselves from friends and family. They are also likely to avoid involving themselves in the activities they once enjoyed as they fall deeper into a state of depression.
Relationships between family, friends, and others then become strained. Communication issues need to be handled with patients and compassion.
Someone who is developing hearing loss might not be ready to discuss it. They might be afraid or embarrassed. They may be in denial. You might need to do a bit of detective work to figure out when it’s time to have the conversation.
Here are some external cues you will have to depend on because you can’t hear what other people are hearing:
- Cranking the volume way up on your TV
- Failing to hear alarms, doorbells, and other essential sounds
- Avoiding conversations
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other noises that you can’t hear
- Sudden difficulty with work, hobbies, or school
- Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
- Repeated misunderstandings
- Avoiding busy places
Watch for these common symptoms and plan on having a heart-to-heart chat with your loved one.
What is the best way to talk about hearing loss?
Having this talk might not be easy. A spouse in denial might brush it off or become defensive. That’s why discussing hearing loss in an appropriate manner is so important. You might need to alter your language based on your unique relationship, but the steps will be basically the same.
- Step 1: Let them know that you love them unconditionally and value your relationship.
- Step 2: The state of their health is important to you. You’ve read through the research. You know that neglected hearing loss can lead to a higher risk 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. An overly loud television could damage your hearing. Additionally, research shows that increased noise can trigger anxiety, which might affect your relationship. Your loved one may not hear you calling for help if you’ve fallen or someone’s broken into the house. People relate to others through emotion. Simply listing facts won’t have as much impact as painting an emotional picture.
- Step 4: Agree together to make an appointment to get a hearing test. After you make the decision make an appointment right away. Don’t hold off.
- Step 5: Be prepared for opposition. These could arise at any time in the process. This is a person you know well. What will their objections be? Will it be lack of time, or money? Perhaps they don’t see that it’s an issue. They may feel that home remedies will be good enough. (You recognize “natural hearing loss cures” don’t actually work and could do more harm than good.)
Be prepared with your responses. You may even rehearse them in the mirror. These answers need to address your loved one’s Worries but they don’t have to match those listed above word-for-word
If your partner is unwilling to discuss their hearing loss, it can be difficult. Developing a plan to tackle potential communication problems and the impact hearing loss can have on your relationship will help both partners have confidence that their concerns will be heard and understood. By having this talk, you’ll grow closer and get your loved one the help they need to live a longer, healthier, more fulfilling life. And relationships are, after all, about growing together.