Most individuals don’t want to talk about the effect hearing loss has on relationships, even though it’s an issue many people deal with. Both partners can feel aggravated by the misunderstandings that are caused by hearing loss.
This is the ideal time for you to express your love and appreciation for your loved one with Valentine’s Day just around the corner. Discussing hearing loss together is an ideal way to do this.
Having “the talk”
Studies have found that an individual with untreated hearing loss is 2.4 times more likely to develop dementia, and that includes Alzheimer’s disease. A cascade effect that will inevitably affect the whole brain will be initiated when the region of your brain responsible for hearing becomes less active. Doctors call this brain atrophy. It’s the “use it or lose it” principle in action.
Depression rates among people who have hearing loss are almost double that of a person who has healthy hearing. Studies have shown that as a person’s hearing loss worsens, they frequently become stressed and agitated. This can result in the person being self isolated from friends and family. As they sink deeper into sadness, people who have hearing loss are likely to avoid participating in the activities they once enjoyed.
This, as a result, can lead to relationship strain among mother and son, daughter and father, close friends, spouses, and others in this person’s life. Communication problems need to be handled with patients and compassion.
Somebody who is developing hearing loss may not be ready to discuss it. They may be afraid or embarrassed. They could be in denial. Deciding when to have the conversation could take a bit of detective work.
Here are some outward clues you will have to depend on because you can’t hear what others are hearing:
- Watching TV with the volume extremely high
- School, work, and hobbies are starting to become difficult
- Avoiding busy places
- Avoiding conversations
- Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
- Not hearing important sounds, such as the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or somebody calling their name
- Frequent misunderstandings
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other noises that you don’t hear
Look for these prevalent symptoms and plan to have a heart-to-heart conversation with your loved one.
How to talk about hearing loss
Having this talk may not be easy. A loved one might become defensive and brush it off if they’re in denial. That’s why discussing hearing loss in an appropriate manner is so important. The steps will be essentially the same but perhaps with some small modifications based on your specific relationship situation.
- Step 1: Tell them that you love them unconditionally and value your relationship.
- Step 2: The state of their health is very important to you. You’ve seen the research. You’re aware that neglected hearing loss can lead to an increased chance of dementia and depression. You don’t want your loved one to deal with that.
- Step 3: Your own safety and health are also a worry. An excessively loud TV could harm your hearing. Also, your relationship can be impacted, as studies have shown that excessively loud noise can trigger anxiety. Your loved one may not hear you yelling for help if you have a fall or somebody’s broken into the house. People connect with others through emotion. If you can paint an emotional picture of the what-ifs, it’s more impactful than merely listing facts.
- Step 4: Decide together to schedule an appointment to get a hearing test. After you make the decision make an appointment as soon as possible. Don’t wait.
- Step 5: Be ready for objections. You could encounter these objections at any time in the process. You know this person. What will their doubts be? Money? Time? Possibly they don’t detect that it’s an issue. They might feel that home remedies will be good enough. (You know “natural hearing loss cures” don’t actually work and could cause more harm than good.)
Have your answers prepared beforehand. Even a bit of practice can’t hurt. They don’t have to match those listed above word-for-word, but they should address your loved one’s concerns.
If your partner isn’t willing to discuss their hearing loss, it can be challenging. Openly discussing 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 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?