It’s something lots of people cope with, but most don’t want to talk about – hearing loss and its effect on personal relationships. Both partners can feel frustrated by the misunderstandings that are caused by hearing loss.
This is the perfect time for you to show 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 experiencing neglected hearing loss has a 2.4 times more likely chance of developing cognitive conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease according to some studies. A cascade effect that will ultimately impact the whole brain will be initiated when the region of your brain responsible for hearing becomes less active. This is called brain atrophy by doctors. It’s the “use it or lose it” idea in action.
Depression numbers amongst those who have hearing loss are nearly twice that of an individual who has healthy hearing. Research shows that as a person’s hearing loss progresses, they frequently become stressed and agitated. This can result in the person being self secluded from family and friends. As they sink deeper into sadness, people with hearing loss are likely to avoid taking part 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 find solutions to communication challenges.
Your loved one might not be ready to inform you they’re developing hearing loss. They may be afraid or ashamed. Denial may have set in. Deciding when to have the talk could take a little detective work.
Since you can’t hear what your spouse or parent hears, you’ll have to rely on external cues, like:
- Cranking the volume way up on your TV
- Avoiding conversations
- Failing to hear alerts, doorbells, and other essential sounds
- Repeated misunderstandings
- School, work, and hobbies are starting to become difficult
- Avoiding busy places
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other sounds that you don’t hear
- Agitation or anxiety in social settings that you haven’t previously observed
Watch for these prevalent symptoms and plan to have a heart-to-heart chat with your loved one.
What is the best way to talk about hearing loss?
This discussion may not be an easy one to have. A loved one might 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. The steps will be pretty much the same but maybe with some minor modifications based on your particular relationship situation.
- Step 1: Tell them that you love them without condition and value your relationship.
- Step 2: The state of their health is important to you. You’ve read through the research. You know that an increased risk of depression and dementia comes along with neglected hearing loss. That’s not what you want for your loved one.
- Step 3: Your own safety and health are also a concern. An excessively loud television could harm your hearing. Also, your relationship can be affected, as studies have revealed that excessively loud noise can trigger anxiety. Your loved one may not hear you calling for help if you have a fall or someone’s broken into the house. People relate to 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: Decide together to make an appointment to get a hearing exam. Do it immediately after making the decision. Don’t hold off.
- Step 5: Be prepared for objections. You could encounter these objections at any point in the process. You know this person. What will their objections be? Will it be lack of time, or money? Doesn’t see an issue? Do they believe they can utilize do-it-yourself methods? (“Natural hearing loss remedies” aren’t effective and can even be harmful.)
Have your responses prepared beforehand. Even a bit of rehearsal can’t hurt. They don’t have to match those listed above word-for-word, but they should concentrate on your loved one’s concerns.
Talking about hearing loss isn’t easy if your partner doesn’t want to discuss it. Openly talking about the effect of hearing loss on your relationship can help to establish a plan to address any communication challenges and ensure that both partners are heard and understood. In this way, 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.