It’s something a lot of people suffer with, but most don’t want to talk about – hearing loss and its effect on personal relationships. Hearing loss can cause communication hurdles that result in misunderstandings and frustration for both partners.
This is the ideal time for you to show your love and appreciation for your loved one with Valentine’s Day right around the corner. Talking about hearing loss together is a great way to do this.
Having “the talk”
Studies have revealed that an individual with untreated hearing loss is 2.4 times more likely to experience dementia, and that includes Alzheimer’s disease. A cascade effect that will inevitably affect the whole brain will be initiated when the part of your brain in charge of hearing becomes less engaged. This is called brain atrophy by doctors. You remember how the old saying goes, “use it or lose it”.
Depression rates amongst people who have hearing loss are almost double that of a person who has healthy hearing. People often become stressed and agitated as their hearing loss worsens according to research. The individual could begin to seclude themselves from friends and family. They are also likely to avoid getting involved 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 find solutions to communication difficulties.
Someone who is developing hearing loss may not be ready to talk about it. They might feel embarrassment and fear. They may be in denial. Deciding when to have the talk may take a bit of detective work.
Since you can’t hear what your partner or parent hears, you’ll need to rely on outward cues, such as:
- Frequent misunderstandings
- Avoiding conversations
- School, work, and hobbies are starting to become difficult
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other sounds that you can’t hear
- Avoiding busy places
- Agitation or anxiety in social settings that you haven’t previously observed
- Failing to hear alerts, doorbells, and other significant sounds
- Watching TV with the volume very high
Watch for these common symptoms and plan to have a heart-to-heart chat with your loved one.
What is the best way to talk about hearing loss?
Having this talk may not be easy. A partner in denial may brush it off or become defensive. That’s why it’s important to approach hearing loss in a sensitive and appropriate way. You may need to alter your language based on your unique relationship, but the steps will be basically the same.
- Step 1: Inform them how much you love them without condition and how much you appreciate your relationship.
- Step 2: The state of their health is very important to you. You’ve read the studies. You know that neglected hearing loss can result in a higher chance of dementia and depression. You don’t want your loved one to deal with that.
- Step 3: You’re also concerned about your own safety and health. An excessively loud television could damage your hearing. In addition, research shows that elevated noise can trigger anxiety, which may impact your relationship. Your loved one may not hear you yelling for help if you have a fall or somebody’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’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 schedule an appointment right away. Don’t wait.
- Step 5: Be ready for objections. These could occur at any time in the process. You know this person. What kind of doubts will they have? Will it be lack of time, or money? Possibly they don’t detect that it’s a problem. They might feel that homemade remedies will be just fine. (You recognize “natural hearing loss cures” don’t actually work and could cause more harm than good.)
Be ready with your responses. Even a little rehearsal can’t hurt. They don’t need to match those listed above word-for-word, but they should concentrate on your loved one’s worries.
If your spouse isn’t willing to talk about their hearing loss, it can be challenging. Establishing a plan to tackle potential communication challenges and the effect hearing loss can have on your relationship will help both partners have confidence that their concerns will be heard and understood. By having this discussion, 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?