It’s something a lot of people suffer with, but few want to talk about – hearing loss and its impact on personal relationships. Both partners can feel frustrated by the misunderstandings that are caused by hearing loss.
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner isn’t it a great time to express your love and appreciation for your loved one? A great way to do this is to have a discussion about your hearing loss.
Having “the talk”
A person experiencing untreated hearing loss has a 2.4 times more likely chance of developing cognitive disorders including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease according to some studies. A cascade effect that will eventually affect the whole brain will be caused when the part of your brain in charge of hearing becomes less active. Doctors refer to this as brain atrophy. It’s the “use it or lose it” concept in action.
Depression numbers among individuals who have hearing loss are nearly double that of a person with healthy hearing. Individuals frequently become anxious and agitated as their hearing loss worsens according to research. The person could begin to separate themselves from friends and family. As they fall deeper into depression, people with hearing loss are likely to avoid taking part in the activities they once enjoyed.
Relationships between family, friends, and others then become strained. It’s important to be patient and work together to determine solutions to communication challenges.
Your loved one may not be ready to tell you they are developing hearing loss. They may feel embarrassment and fear. They could be in denial. You may need to do some detective work to determine when it’s time to have the talk.
Here are some outward clues you will have to depend on because you can’t hear what others are hearing:
- Agitation or anxiety in social settings that you haven’t previously observed
- Not hearing vital sounds, like the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or somebody calling their name
- Repeated misunderstandings
- Complaining about ringing, humming, static, or other sounds that you can’t hear
- Avoiding conversations
- Sudden difficulty with work, hobbies, or school
- Cranking the volume way up on your TV
- Avoiding busy places
Plan to have a heart-to-heart talk with your loved one if you observe any of these symptoms.
What is the best way to talk about hearing loss?
Having this conversation may not be easy. A loved one may become defensive and brush it off if they’re in denial. That’s why approaching hearing loss in the right way is so important. You might need to modify your language based on your unique relationship, but the strategies will be more or less the same.
- Step 1: Tell them that you love them unconditionally and appreciate your relationship.
- Step 2: You’re concerned about their health. You’ve read through the studies. You know that neglected hearing loss can result in an increased risk of depression and dementia. You don’t want your loved one to go through that.
- Step 3: Your own safety and health are also a worry. An excessively loud television could damage your hearing. In addition, studies show that elevated noise can cause anxiety, which may affect your relationship. Your loved one may not hear you calling for help if you’ve fallen or someone’s broken into the house. People connect with others through emotion. Merely listing facts won’t be as impactful as painting an emotional picture.
- Step 4: Agree together to schedule an appointment to get a hearing assessment. Do it immediately after making the decision. Don’t wait.
- Step 5: There may be some opposition so be ready. These could happen anywhere in the process. This is a person you know well. What kind of doubts will they have? Money? Time? Perhaps they don’t see that it’s an issue. They may feel that home remedies will be good enough. (“Natural hearing loss cures” are not effective and can even be harmful.)
Have your responses prepared beforehand. Even a little practice can’t hurt. These responses need to address your loved one’s concerns but they don’t need to match those listed above word-for-word
Discussing hearing loss isn’t easy if your partner doesn’t want to talk about it. Openly discussing the impact of hearing loss on your relationship can help to establish a plan to deal with any communication issues and ensure that both partners are heard and understood. In this way, your relationship will get stronger and your loved one will take measures to live a longer, healthier life. Growing together – isn’t that what love is all about?