The majority of individuals don’t want to discuss the impact hearing loss has on relationships, even though it’s an issue many people cope with. 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. Talking about hearing loss together is an ideal way to do this.
Having “the talk”
Studies have found that an individual with neglected hearing loss is 2.4 times more likely to experience dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. When the part of your brain used for hearing becomes less engaged, it can start a cascade effect that can affect your entire brain. This is referred to as brain atrophy by doctors. It’s the “use it or lose it” principle in action.
Depression rates among individuals with hearing loss are nearly twice that of a person who has healthy hearing. People frequently become stressed and agitated as their hearing loss worsens according to research. The person could start to seclude themselves from friends and family. As they fall deeper into depression, people who have hearing loss are likely to avoid engaging in the activities they once enjoyed.
This, in turn, can result in relationship stress among mother and son, father and daughter, close friends, spouses, and others in this person’s life. It’s important to be patient and work together to find solutions to communication challenges.
Someone who is developing hearing loss might not be ready to talk about it. They might be afraid or ashamed. Denial may have set in. Deciding when to have the conversation could take a little detective work.
Here are some external clues you will need to depend on because you can’t hear what others are hearing:
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other sounds that you can’t hear
- Failing to hear alarms, doorbells, and other essential sounds
- Avoiding conversations
- Repeated misunderstandings
- Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
- Sudden difficulty with work, hobbies, or school
- Cranking the volume way up on your TV
- Avoiding busy places
Look for these common symptoms and plan on having a heart-to-heart talk with your loved one.
What is the best way to discuss hearing loss?
This talk 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 approaching hearing loss in the right way is so crucial. The steps will be basically the same but possibly with some small alterations based on your specific relationship situation.
- Step 1: Let them know that you love them without condition and appreciate your relationship.
- Step 2: You’re concerned about their health. You’ve read through the studies. You know that a higher risk of depression and dementia comes along with neglected hearing loss. You don’t want that for your loved one.
- Step 3: You’re also worried about your own health and safety. Your hearing could be damaged by an excessively loud TV. In addition, studies show that increased noise can create anxiety, which may affect your relationship. Your loved one might not hear you yelling for help if you’ve fallen or somebody’s broken into the house. People connect with others through emotion. Simply listing facts won’t be as impactful as painting an emotional picture.
- Step 4: Decide together to make an appointment to get a hearing assessment. Do it right away after making the decision. Don’t delay.
- Step 5: Be prepared for opposition. These could occur anywhere in the process. You know this person. What will their objections be? Money? Time? Possibly they don’t detect that it’s a problem. They may feel that home remedies will be good enough. (“Natural hearing loss cures” are not effective and can even be harmful.)
Be ready with your responses. You may even practice them in the mirror. These responses need to address your loved one’s concerns but they don’t have to match those listed above word-for-word
Talking about hearing loss isn’t easy if your partner isn’t willing to discuss it. Openly talking about 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. By having this conversation, you’ll grow closer and get your partner the help they need to live a longer, healthier, more rewarding life. Growing together – isn’t that what love is all about?