It’s something lots of individuals suffer with, but few want to talk about – hearing loss and its effect on personal relationships. Hearing loss can cause communication obstacles that lead to misunderstandings and frustration for both partners.
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner isn’t it a great opportunity to express your love and appreciation for your loved one? A wonderful way to do this is to have a discussion about your hearing loss.
Having “the talk”
A person experiencing neglected hearing loss has a 2.4 times more likely chance of experiencing cognitive conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease according to some studies. A cascade effect that will inevitably affect the entire brain will be initiated when the part of your brain in charge of hearing becomes less active. Doctors refer to this as brain atrophy. It’s the “use it or lose it” concept in action.
Depression rates are nearly half in individuals who have normal hearing compared to people who have hearing loss. Research shows that as a person’s hearing loss worsens, they frequently become stressed and agitated. The individual may start to separate themselves from friends and family. They are also likely to avoid getting involved in the activities they once enjoyed as they sink deeper into a state of depression.
Relationships between family, friends, and others then become strained. Communication problems need to be handled with patients and compassion.
Your loved one might not be ready to inform you they’re developing hearing loss. They may be afraid or embarrassed. Denial may have set in. Deciding when to have the talk may take a bit of detective work.
Because you can’t hear what your spouse or parent hears, you’ll have to depend on external cues, like:
- Avoiding busy places
- Frequent misunderstandings
- Watching television with the volume very high
- Complaining about ringing, humming, static, or other sounds that you don’t hear
- School, work, and hobbies are starting to become difficult
- Avoiding conversations
- Not hearing significant sounds, like the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or somebody calling their name
- Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
Plan on having a heart-to-heart discussion with your loved one if you notice any of these symptoms.
What is the best way to talk about hearing loss?
This talk may not be an easy one to have. A loved one could become defensive and brush it off if they’re in denial. That’s why it’s crucial to approach hearing loss in a sensitive and appropriate way. The steps will be pretty much the same but perhaps with some slight alterations based on your specific relationship situation.
- Step 1: Tell them how much you love them unconditionally and how much you appreciate your relationship.
- Step 2: You are concerned about their health. You’ve read through the studies. You know that neglected hearing loss can lead to an increased risk of depression and dementia. You don’t want that for your loved one.
- Step 3: You’re also concerned about your own safety and health. An excessively loud television could harm your hearing. In addition, studies show that elevated noise can create anxiety, which may impact your relationship. Your loved one might not hear you calling for help if you have a fall or someone’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’s more impactful than simply listing facts.
- Step 4: Make an appointment to have your hearing tested together. Do it right away after making the decision. Don’t delay.
- Step 5: Be prepared for objections. These could happen anywhere in the process. You know this person. What will their doubts be? Will it be lack of time, or money? Doesn’t see an issue? They may feel that homemade remedies will be just fine. (“Natural hearing loss cures” are not effective and can even be harmful.)
Have your answers prepared ahead of time. You may 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.
Discussing hearing loss isn’t easy if your significant other isn’t willing to talk about it. Developing a plan to deal with potential communication challenges and the impact hearing loss can have on your relationship will help both partners have confidence that their worries will be heard and understood. In this way, your relationship will grow stronger and your loved one will take steps to live a longer, healthier life. Growing together – isn’t that what love is all about?