Want to show how much you care? Listen to your loved ones, truly listen. But you have to be able to hear in order to really listen.
Research shows one in three adults between the ages of 65 and 74 is experiencing hearing loss and millions would benefit from using a hearing aid. Regrettably, only around 30% of these individuals actually use their hearing aids.
Neglecting your hearing loss leads to difficulty hearing, in addition to increased dementia rates, depression, and strained relationships. Many individuals coping with hearing loss simply suffer in silence.
But it’s nearly springtime. It’s a time for new foliage, flowers, fresh starts, and growing together. Talking frankly about hearing loss can be a good way to renew relationships.
Having “The Talk” is Necessary
Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, is 2.4 times more likely in individuals who have untreated hearing loss according to many studies. When the part of your brain responsible for hearing becomes less active, it can initiate a cascade effect that can affect your overall brain. Doctors refer to this as brain atrophy. It’s an example of the “use it or lose it” principle at work.
Depression cases amongst people with hearing loss are almost twice that of someone with healthy hearing. Research demonstrates that as a person’s hearing loss worsens, they often become stressed and agitated. Isolation from family and friends is frequently the result. They’re likely to sink deeper into depression as they stop engaging in activities once loved.
This, in turn, can lead to strained relationships amongst spouses, but also between parent and child, close friends, and other people in this person’s life.
Solving The Puzzle
Your loved one might not feel that they can talk to you about their hearing problems. Fear or shame might be a problem for them. Maybe they’re going through denial. In order to decide when will be the best time to have this conversation, some detective work might be needed.
Since you can’t hear what your spouse or parent hears, you’ll have to depend on outward cues, like:
- School, hobbies, and work are suddenly becoming harder
- New levels of anxiousness in social situations
- Ringing, buzzing, and other sounds that no one else can hear
- Turning the volume way up on the TV
- Avoiding conversations
- Important sounds, like somebody calling their name, a doorbell, or a warning alarm are frequently missed
- Recurring misunderstandings
- Steering clear of places with lots of people and activity
Watch for for these common symptoms and plan to have a heart-to-heart talk with your loved one.
The Hearing Loss Talk – Here’s How
Having this discussion may not be easy. You may get the brush off or even a more defensive response from a spouse in denial. That’s why approaching hearing loss in an appropriate manner is so important. You might need to modify your language based on your unique relationship, but the steps will be more or less the same.
Step 1: Make them understand that you value your relationship and have unconditional love for them.
Step 2: Their health is important to you and you’re concerned. You’ve done the research. You know that neglected hearing loss can cause an increased chance of dementia and depression. You don’t want that for your loved one.
Step 3: Your own health and safety are also a worry. Your hearing can be harmed by excessively loud volumes on the TV and other devices. In addition, research has shown that elevated noise can create anxiety, which might impact your relationship. If someone has broken into your home, or you yell for help, your loved one may not hear you.
Emotion is a key part of effective communication. Merely listing facts won’t be as impactful as painting an emotional picture of the possible consequences.
Step 4: Agree together to make an appointment to get a hearing exam. Do it immediately after making the decision. Don’t wait.
Step 5: Be prepared for your loved ones to have some objections. These might happen anywhere in the process. This is someone you know well. What problems will they find? Money? Time? Do they not acknowledge a problem? Are they considering trying home remedies? You understand “natural hearing loss cures” don’t actually work and could cause more harm than good.
Prepare your counter replies. Maybe you practice them beforehand. They don’t have to be those listed above word-for-word, but they should answer your loved one’s concerns.
Grow Your Relationship
Talking about hearing loss isn’t easy if your loved one isn’t willing to consider it. But you’ll get your loved one the assistance they need to live a long healthy life and grow closer by having this conversation. Isn’t love all about growing together?