It’s something lots of individuals suffer with, but most don’t want to talk about – hearing loss and its effect on personal relationships. Both partners can feel frustrated 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 right around the corner. A great way to do this is to have a discussion about your hearing loss.
Having “the talk”
Studies have found that a person with neglected hearing loss is 2.4 times more likely to experience dementia, and that includes Alzheimer’s disease. When the region of your brain responsible for hearing becomes less engaged, it can start a cascade effect that can impact your whole brain. This is called brain atrophy by doctors. It’s the “use it or lose it” concept in action.
Depression cases are almost half in individuals who have normal hearing compared to those who have hearing loss. Individuals often become stressed and agitated as their hearing loss worsens according to research. This can lead to the person being self secluded from family and friends. They are also likely to stop involving themselves in the activities they used to enjoy as they fall deeper into a state of sadness.
Relationships between family, friends, and others then become strained. It’s essential to be patient and work together to determine solutions to communication challenges.
Someone who is experiencing hearing loss may not be ready to talk about it. They may feel shame and fear. They may be in denial. Deciding when to have the conversation may take a little detective work.
Here are a few outward 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
- Avoiding busy places
- Avoiding conversations
- Repeated misunderstandings
- School, work, and hobbies are starting to become difficult
- Cranking the volume way up on your TV
- Agitation or anxiety in social settings that you haven’t previously observed
- Failing to hear alarms, doorbells, and other essential sounds
Look for these common symptoms and plan on having a heart-to-heart conversation with your loved one.
What is the best way to discuss hearing loss?
Having this discussion may not be easy. A loved one could become defensive and brush it off if they’re in denial. That’s why it’s essential to discuss hearing loss in a sensitive and appropriate way. The steps will be pretty much the same but maybe with some slight alterations 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 important to you. You’ve seen the research. You know that a higher risk of depression and dementia comes along with untreated hearing loss. You don’t want your loved one to go through that.
- Step 3: Your own safety and health are also a concern. Your hearing could be harmed by an overly loud TV. Also, your relationship can be affected, as studies have shown that excessively loud noise can trigger anxiety. Your loved one might not hear you calling for help if you’ve fallen or someone’s broken into the house. Emotion is a strong way to connect with others. If you can paint an emotional picture of the what-ifs, it will have more impact than simply listing facts.
- Step 4: Make an appointment to get a hearing test together. After you make the decision make an appointment right away. Don’t wait.
- Step 5: There may be some objections so be prepared. You could encounter these objections at any time in the process. You know this person. What sort of objections will they have? Will it be lack of time, or money? Doesn’t notice an issue? They may feel that homemade remedies will be just fine. (“Natural hearing loss cures” are not effective and can even be harmful.)
Be prepared with your answers. Even a bit of practice can’t hurt. They don’t have to match those listed above word-for-word, but they should concentrate on your loved one’s worries.
If your partner isn’t willing to talk about their hearing loss, it can be challenging. Openly talking about the effect of hearing loss on your relationship can help to establish a plan to address any communication challenges and ensure that both partners are heard and understood. By doing this, your relationship will get stronger and your loved one will take steps to live a longer, healthier life. And relationships are, after all, about growing together.