It’s something a lot of people suffer with, but few want to talk about – hearing loss and its impact on personal relationships. Both partners can feel frustrated by the misunderstandings that are caused by hearing loss.
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 great way to do this is to talk to your loved one about your hearing loss.
Having “the talk”
A person experiencing untreated hearing loss has a 2.4 times more likely risk of developing cognitive conditions including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease according to some studies. A cascade effect that will ultimately affect the whole brain will be initiated when the part of your brain in charge of hearing becomes less engaged. Doctors refer to this as brain atrophy. It’s the “use it or lose it” idea in action.
Depression cases are almost half in individuals who have normal hearing compared to people who have hearing loss. Individuals often become stressed and agitated as their hearing loss progresses according to research. The individual may start to isolate themselves from family and friends. They are also likely to stop getting involved in the activities they used to enjoy as they sink deeper into a state of depression.
Relationships between family, friends, and others then become tense. It’s important to be patient and work together to find solutions to communication challenges.
Your loved one might not be ready to tell you they’re developing hearing loss. They might be afraid or ashamed. They may be in denial. Deciding when to have the conversation could take a bit of detective work.
Since you can’t hear what your partner or parent hears, you’ll have to rely on outward clues, like:
- Not hearing vital sounds, like the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or someone calling their name
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other noises that you can’t hear
- Avoiding conversations
- Agitation or anxiety in social settings that you haven’t previously observed
- Watching TV with the volume very high
- Avoiding busy places
- Sudden difficulty with work, hobbies, or school
- Repeated misunderstandings
Look for these prevalent symptoms and plan to have a heart-to-heart talk with your loved one.
How to discuss hearing loss
This talk might not be an easy one to have. A spouse in denial may brush it off or become defensive. That’s why it’s essential to discuss hearing loss in a sensitive and appropriate way. You may need to modify your language based on your unique relationship, but the strategies will be more or less the same.
- Step 1: Let them know that you love them without condition and appreciate your relationship.
- Step 2: You are worried about their health. You’ve read through the research. You know that an increased risk of depression and dementia comes along with neglected hearing loss. You don’t want your loved one to experience that.
- Step 3: Your own safety and health are also a worry. Your hearing may be harmed by an excessively loud TV. Additionally, studies show that increased noise can create anxiety, which might impact your relationship. If you have a burglar in your house or you’ve taken a fall, your partner may not hear you yelling for help. People connect with others through emotion. Merely listing facts won’t have as much impact as painting an emotional picture.
- Step 4: Make an appointment to get a hearing test together. After you make the decision make an appointment right away. Don’t hold off.
- Step 5: Be ready for objections. You could encounter these objections at any time in the process. You know this person. What sort of objections will they have? Money? Time? Possibly they don’t detect that it’s a problem. Do they think they can use homemade methods? (You know “natural hearing loss cures” don’t actually work and could do more harm than good.)
Be prepared with your responses. You might even practice them in the mirror. These answers need to address your loved one’s concerns but they don’t have to match those listed above word-for-word
If your partner isn’t willing to talk about their hearing loss, it can be difficult. Developing a plan to tackle 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. By having this discussion, you’ll grow closer and get your partner the help they need to live a longer, healthier, more fulfilling life. Growing together – isn’t that what love is all about?