It’s something lots of individuals cope 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.
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner isn’t it the perfect opportunity to show your love and appreciation for your loved one? Discussing hearing loss together is a great way to do this.
Having “the talk”
Studies have revealed that a person with neglected hearing loss is 2.4 times more likely to experience dementia, and that includes Alzheimer’s disease. When the region of your brain responsible for hearing becomes less active, it can start 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 cases are nearly half in people who have normal hearing compared to people who have hearing loss. Individuals often become anxious and agitated as their hearing loss worsens according to research. The person may start to seclude themselves from family and friends. They are also likely to avoid getting involved in the activities they used to enjoy as they sink deeper into a state of sadness.
This, as a result, can result in relationship stress among mother and son, daughter and father, close friends, spouses, and other people in this person’s life. It’s important to be patient and work together to find solutions to communication difficulties.
Somebody who is experiencing hearing loss may not be ready to discuss it. They might be afraid or ashamed. Denial may have set in. You might need to do some detective work to figure out when it’s time to have the conversation.
Here are a few outward clues you will have to rely on because you can’t hear what other people are hearing:
- Frequent misunderstandings
- Complaining about ringing, humming, static, or other sounds that you can’t hear
- Sudden difficulty with work, hobbies, or school
- Avoiding conversations
- Watching television with the volume extremely high
- Not hearing important sounds, like the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or someone calling their name
- Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
- Avoiding busy places
Plan on having a heart-to-heart discussion with your loved one if you detect any of these symptoms.
What is the best way to discuss hearing loss?
Having this conversation might not be easy. A partner in denial might brush it off or become defensive. That’s why it’s essential to approach hearing loss in a sensitive and appropriate way. You may need to modify your language based on your unique relationship, but the steps will be basically the same.
- Step 1: Let them know that you love them unconditionally and appreciate your relationship.
- Step 2: You are concerned about their health. You’ve seen the research. You know that an increased risk of depression and dementia comes along with neglected hearing loss. You don’t want that for your loved one.
- Step 3: Your own safety and health are also a worry. Your hearing may be harmed by an excessively loud TV. In addition, studies show that increased noise can create anxiety, which might affect your relationship. Your loved one may not hear you calling for help if you’ve fallen 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 will have more impact than merely listing facts.
- Step 4: Agree together to schedule an appointment to get a hearing exam. After you make the decision schedule an appointment right away. Don’t wait.
- Step 5: Be prepared for objections. These could occur anywhere in the process. You know this person. What will their objections be? Will it be lack of time, or money? Maybe they don’t detect that it’s an issue. Do they think they can utilize do-it-yourself methods? (“Natural hearing loss cures” aren’t effective and can even be harmful.)
Have your responses prepared ahead of time. You may 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
Talking about hearing loss isn’t easy if your significant other doesn’t want to talk about it. Openly discussing the impact of hearing loss on your relationship can help to solidify a plan to address any communication challenges and ensure that both partners are heard and understood. By having this conversation, you’ll grow closer and get your loved one the help they need to live a longer, healthier, more rewarding life. Growing together – isn’t that what love is all about?