Most people don’t want to discuss the effect hearing loss has on relationships, even though it’s an issue many people deal with. Both partners can feel frustrated by the misunderstandings that are caused by hearing loss.
This is the ideal time for you to show your love and appreciation for your loved one with Valentine’s Day right around the corner. Talking about hearing loss together is a great way to do this.
Having “the talk”
A person experiencing neglected hearing loss has a 2.4 times more likely chance of experiencing cognitive conditions including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease according to some studies. A cascade effect that will eventually impact the whole brain will be caused when the region of your brain responsible for hearing becomes less engaged. This is called brain atrophy by doctors. You remember how the old saying goes, “use it or lose it”.
Depression rates are nearly half in people who have healthy hearing compared to those who have hearing loss. People frequently become anxious and agitated as their hearing loss worsens according to research. This can result in the person being self isolated from friends and family. They are also likely to stop getting involved in the activities they used to enjoy as they fall deeper into a state of depression.
This, in turn, can result in relationship strain among mother and son, father and daughter, close friends, spouses, and other people in this person’s life. Communication problems need to be managed with patients and compassion.
Your loved one may not be ready to let you know they are developing hearing loss. They might feel embarrassment and fear. Denial might have set in. You may need to do a bit of detective work to determine when it’s time to have the talk.
Because you can’t hear what your partner or parent hears, you’ll need to rely on external cues, such as:
- Repeated misunderstandings
- Avoiding conversations
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other sounds that you can’t hear
- Agitation or anxiety in social settings that you haven’t previously observed
- Avoiding busy places
- Sudden difficulty with work, hobbies, or school
- Failing to hear alerts, doorbells, and other essential sounds
- Turning the volume way up on your TV
Look for these prevalent symptoms and plan on having a heart-to-heart talk with your loved one.
How to discuss hearing loss
This talk might not be an easy one to have. A spouse in denial may brush it off or become defensive. That’s why it’s crucial to approach hearing loss in a sensitive and appropriate way. The steps will be basically the same but maybe with some small modifications based on your specific relationship situation.
- Step 1: Let them know that you love them unconditionally and value your relationship.
- Step 2: You are concerned about their health. You’ve read the studies. You know that an increased risk of depression and dementia comes along with untreated hearing loss. That’s not what you want for your loved one.
- Step 3: You’re also worried about your own health and safety. Your hearing may be damaged by an excessively loud TV. In addition, studies show that increased noise can create anxiety, which might impact your relationship. If you have an intruder in your house or you’ve taken a fall, your partner may not hear you calling for help. Emotion is a powerful way to connect with others. If you can paint an emotional picture of the what-ifs, it’s more impactful than merely listing facts.
- Step 4: Schedule an appointment to have your hearing tested together. After you make the decision schedule an appointment right away. Don’t wait.
- Step 5: There might be some objections so be ready. These could happen anywhere in the process. You know this person. What kind of objections will they have? Will it be lack of time, or money? Maybe they don’t see that it’s a problem. They might feel that home remedies will be just fine. (You know “natural hearing loss cures” don’t actually work and could do more harm than good.)
Have your answers prepared beforehand. You may even practice them in the mirror. They don’t need to match those listed above word-for-word, but they should concentrate on your loved one’s worries.
Talking about hearing loss isn’t easy if your significant other isn’t willing to talk about it. Openly talking about the effect of hearing loss on your relationship can help to solidify a plan to address any communication issues and make sure that both partners are heard and understood. By having this discussion, you’ll grow closer and get your loved one the help they need to live a longer, healthier, more rewarding life. Growing together – isn’t that what love is all about?