The majority of people don’t want to discuss the impact hearing loss has on relationships, even though it’s an issue many people cope with. Both partners can feel frustrated by the misunderstandings that are caused by hearing loss.
This is the perfect time for you to express your love and appreciation for your loved one with Valentine’s Day just around the corner. A great way to do this is to talk to your loved one about your hearing loss.
Having “the talk”
A person with neglected hearing loss has a 2.4 times more likely risk of experiencing cognitive conditions including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease according to some studies. When the region of your brain used for hearing becomes less active, it can begin a cascade effect that can affect your entire brain. Doctors refer to this as brain atrophy. You remember how the old saying goes, “use it or lose it”.
Depression rates are nearly half in individuals who have healthy hearing compared to people who have hearing loss. Research shows that as a person’s hearing loss worsens, they frequently become stressed and agitated. This can result in the person being self isolated from friends and family. 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 tense. Communication issues need to be managed with patients and compassion.
Your loved one might not be ready to let you know they are experiencing 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.
Here are some outward clues you will need to depend on because you can’t hear what other people are hearing:
- Not hearing vital sounds, such as the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or someone calling their name
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other noises that you can’t hear
- Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
- Watching TV with the volume extremely high
- School, work, and hobbies are starting to become difficult
- Repeated misunderstandings
- Avoiding conversations
- Avoiding busy places
Plan on having a heart-to-heart discussion with your loved one if you observe any of these symptoms.
What is the best way to discuss hearing loss?
This discussion might not be an easy one to have. 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 relevant. You might need to modify your language based on your unique relationship, but the strategies will be more or less the same.
- Step 1: Tell them that you love them unconditionally and value your relationship.
- Step 2: You’re concerned about their health. You’ve read through the research. You’re aware that untreated hearing loss can result in a higher chance of depression and dementia. You don’t want that for your loved one.
- Step 3: Your own safety and health are also a concern. Your hearing could be damaged by an overly loud TV. In addition, studies show that elevated noise can create anxiety, which may affect your relationship. Your loved one might not hear you yelling for help if you’ve fallen or someone’s broken into the house. Emotion is a powerful way to connect with others. Merely listing facts won’t be as impactful as painting an emotional picture.
- Step 4: Make an appointment to have your hearing tested together. After you make the decision make an appointment right away. Don’t delay.
- Step 5: Be ready for objections. These could occur at any time in the process. This is a person you know well. What kind of doubts will they have? Money? Time? Perhaps they don’t see that it’s a problem. Do they believe they can utilize homemade methods? (“Natural hearing loss remedies” are not effective and can even be harmful.)
Have your responses prepared beforehand. You may even practice them in the mirror. They don’t have 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 discuss their hearing loss, it can be challenging. 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 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?