Want to show how much you care? Truly listen when your loved ones talk to you. But you have to be able to hear in order to really listen.
Research demonstrates one in three adults between 65 and 74 is coping with hearing loss and millions would benefit from wearing a hearing aid. But only 30% of those individuals actually use hearing aids, unfortunately.
Diminishing hearing, depression, higher dementia rates, and strained relationships are some consequences of this inaction. Suffering in silence is how many people endure their hearing loss.
But spring is almost here. It’s a time for emerging leaves, flowers, new beginnings, and growing together. Isn’t it time to renew your relationship by talking openly about hearing loss?
Having “The Talk” is Necessary
Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, is 2.4 times more likely in people who have untreated hearing loss according to several studies. When the part of your brain used for hearing becomes less active, it can start a cascade effect that can impact your overall brain. This is called “brain atrophy” by doctors. It’s the “use it or lose it” principle in action.
People with hearing loss have almost twice as many instances of depression than people who have normal hearing. Research shows that as a person’s hearing loss gets worse, they frequently become stressed and agitated. Separation from friends and family is frequently the result. They’re likely to stop including themselves in the activities they once enjoyed as they fall deeper into a state of depression.
This, in turn, can lead to relationship strain amongst spouses, but also between parent and child, close friends, and other people in this individual’s life.
Solving The Puzzle
Your loved one may not be ready to tell you that they are developing hearing loss. Fear or shame might be a problem for them. Perhaps they’re going through denial. In order to identify when will be the best time to have this conversation, some detective work might be needed.
Since you are unable to hear what your loved one hears, you’ll have to rely on external cues, such as:
- Experiencing a ringing, humming, static, or other sounds that you can’t hear
- School, hobbies, and work are suddenly becoming more difficult
- Recurring misunderstandings
- Avoiding conversations
- New levels of anxiety in social situations
- Important sounds, like someone calling their name, a doorbell, or a warning alarm are frequently missed
- Staying away from busy places
- Turning the volume way up on the TV
Plan on having a heart-to-heart conversation with your loved one if you observe any of these common signs.
How to Talk About Hearing Loss
Having this discussion might 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 significant. You may need to adjust 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’re aware of the higher dementia risk and depression that accompany neglected hearing loss. You don’t want your loved one to go through that.
Step 3: Your own health and safety are also a worry. Your hearing can be damaged by overly loud volumes on the TV and other devices. Additionally, research has shown that elevated noise can create anxiety, which might impact your relationship. Your loved one may not hear you yelling for help if you’ve fallen or someone’s broken into the house.
Emotion is a key part of strong communication. Simply listing facts won’t be as effective as painting an emotional picture of the possible repercussions.
Step 4: Come to an understanding that it’s time for a hearing assessment. Do it immediately after making the decision. Don’t procrastinate.
Step 5: Be ready for objections. These could happen anytime during the process. You know this person. What problems will they find? Money? Time? Are they convinced it’s no big deal? Do they think they can use home remedies? Be aware that these natural remedies don’t benefit hearing loss and can actually do more harm.
Prepare your counter responses. Perhaps you rehearse them beforehand. They don’t have to match those listed above word-for-word, but they should speak to your loved one’s concerns.
Grow Your Relationship
If your loved one is not willing to talk, it can be a tricky situation. But by having this conversation, you’ll grow closer and get your loved one the help they need to live a longer, healthier, more satisfying life. Isn’t love all about growing closer?