It’s something lots of individuals suffer with, but few want to talk about – hearing loss and its effect on personal relationships. 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”
A person experiencing untreated hearing loss has a 2.4 times more likely risk of developing cognitive disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease according to some studies. When the part of your brain used for hearing becomes less engaged, it can start a cascade effect that can affect your whole brain. Doctors refer to this as brain atrophy. It’s the “use it or lose it” idea in action.
Depression rates amongst those who have hearing loss are almost twice that of a person with healthy hearing. Individuals often become anxious and agitated as their hearing loss progresses according to research. This can result in the person being self secluded from family and friends. As they sink deeper into sadness, people with 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. It’s essential to be patient and work together to find solutions to communication problems.
Your loved one might not be ready to inform you they are developing hearing loss. They may be afraid or ashamed. They could be in denial. Deciding when to have the talk may take a little detective work.
Because you can’t hear what your spouse or parent hears, you’ll need to depend on outward clues, like:
- School, work, and hobbies are starting to become difficult
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other noises that you don’t hear
- Avoiding busy places
- Frequent misunderstandings
- Avoiding conversations
- Watching television with the volume very high
- Agitation or anxiety in social settings that you haven’t previously observed
- Not hearing vital sounds, such as the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or somebody calling their name
Plan on having a heart-to-heart talk with your loved one if you observe any of these symptoms.
What is the best way to discuss hearing loss?
Having this conversation might not be easy. A loved one may become defensive and brush it off if they’re in denial. That’s why discussing 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 basically the same.
- Step 1: Tell them how much you love them unconditionally and how much you value your relationship.
- Step 2: You’re worried about their health. You’ve read through the research. You’re aware that a higher risk of depression and dementia comes along with neglected hearing loss. You don’t want your loved one to go through that.
- Step 3: You’re also concerned about your own health and safety. Your hearing may be damaged by an excessively 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 yelling for help if you have a fall or somebody’s broken into the house. Emotion is a powerful way to connect with others. If you can paint an emotional picture of the what-ifs, it will have more impact than merely listing facts.
- Step 4: Schedule an appointment to get a hearing test together. After you make the decision schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Don’t wait.
- Step 5: There might be some objections so be prepared. You could encounter these oppositions at any time in the process. You know this person. What will their objections be? Will it be lack of time, or money? Possibly they don’t see that it’s an issue. They might feel that homemade remedies will be good enough. (“Natural hearing loss cures” aren’t effective and can even be harmful.)
Be prepared with your answers. You might even rehearse them in the mirror. They don’t need to match those listed above word-for-word, but they should address your loved one’s worries.
If your partner is unwilling to talk about their hearing loss, it can be challenging. Openly discussing the impact of hearing loss on your relationship can help to establish a plan to address any communication issues and ensure that both partners are heard and understood. By having this talk, you’ll grow closer and get your loved one the help they need to live a longer, healthier, more rewarding life. And relationships are, after all, about growing together.