The majority of people don’t want to talk about the effect hearing loss has on relationships, even though it’s a problem many people cope with. Both partners can feel frustrated by the misunderstandings that are caused by hearing loss.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner isn’t it the perfect time to express your love and appreciation for your loved one? A great way to do this is to talk to your loved one about your hearing loss.
Having “the talk”
Studies have revealed that a person with untreated hearing loss is 2.4 times more likely to develop dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. When the part of your brain used for hearing becomes less engaged, it can start 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.
Depression numbers amongst those with hearing loss are nearly double that of a person who has healthy hearing. Individuals frequently become stressed and agitated as their hearing loss progresses according to research. The individual could begin to isolate themselves from friends and family. As they fall deeper into sadness, people with hearing loss are likely to stop engaging in the activities they once enjoyed.
Relationships between family, friends, and others then become tense. It’s essential to be patient and work together to determine solutions to communication difficulties.
Your loved one may not be ready to tell you they’re experiencing hearing loss. They might be afraid or embarrassed. Denial may have set in. Deciding when to have the conversation may take a little detective work.
Since you can’t hear what your partner or parent hears, you’ll have to depend on outward clues, such as:
- School, work, and hobbies are starting to become difficult
- Not hearing vital sounds, like the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or somebody calling their name
- Avoiding busy places
- Turning the volume way up on your TV
- Avoiding conversations
- Agitation or anxiety in social settings that you haven’t previously observed
- Repeated misunderstandings
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other sounds that you can’t hear
Plan to have a heart-to-heart discussion with your loved one if you observe any of these symptoms.
How to talk about hearing loss
Having this talk might not be easy. A spouse in denial may brush it off or become defensive. That’s why approaching hearing loss in an appropriate manner is so relevant. The steps will be basically the same but possibly with some minor alterations based on your specific relationship situation.
- Step 1: Tell them that you love them without condition and appreciate your relationship.
- Step 2: You are concerned about their health. You’ve read through the studies. You know that neglected hearing loss can lead to an increased chance of dementia and depression. You don’t want your loved one to deal with that.
- Step 3: Your own safety and health are also a worry. Your hearing could be damaged by an overly loud TV. Also, your relationship can be affected, as studies have shown that overly loud noise can trigger anxiety. Your loved one might not hear you yelling for help if you’ve fallen or somebody’s broken into the house. People connect with others through emotion. If you can paint an emotional picture of the what-ifs, it will have more impact than merely listing facts.
- Step 4: Agree together to make an appointment to get a hearing exam. Do it immediately after making the decision. Don’t hold off.
- Step 5: There might be some opposition so be prepared. These could arise at any time in the process. You know this person. What will their objections be? Money? Time? Doesn’t see an issue? Do they believe they can use do-it-yourself remedies? (“Natural hearing loss remedies” aren’t effective and can even be harmful.)
Be ready with your responses. 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
Talking about hearing loss isn’t easy if your significant other doesn’t want to talk about it. Developing a plan to tackle potential communication problems and the effect hearing loss can have on your relationship will help both partners have confidence that their worries will be heard and understood. By doing this, your relationship will grow stronger and your loved one will take steps to live a longer, healthier life. And relationships are, after all, about growing together.