It’s something lots of individuals cope with, but few want to talk about – hearing loss and its impact on personal relationships. Hearing loss can cause communication obstacles that lead to misunderstandings and aggravation for both partners.
This is the perfect time for you to express your love and appreciation for your loved one with Valentine’s Day right around the corner. Talking about hearing loss together is a great way to do this.
Having “the talk”
A person experiencing untreated hearing loss has a 2.4 times more likely risk of experiencing 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 impact your whole brain. Doctors refer to this as brain atrophy. It’s the “use it or lose it” concept in action.
Depression rates amongst people who have hearing loss are almost double that of an individual with healthy hearing. Studies have shown that as a person’s hearing loss progresses, they frequently become anxious and agitated. This can lead to the person being self isolated from friends and family. As they sink deeper into sadness, people with hearing loss are likely to stop participating in the activities they once enjoyed.
Relationships between family, friends, and others then become strained. Communication issues need to be managed with patients and compassion.
Somebody who is developing hearing loss might not be ready to discuss it. They might be afraid or ashamed. Denial might have set in. You may need to do some detective work to determine when it’s time to have the talk.
Since you can’t hear what your spouse or parent hears, you’ll need to depend on external cues, like:
- School, work, and hobbies are starting to become difficult
- Agitation or anxiety in social settings that you haven’t previously observed
- Watching television with the volume extremely high
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other sounds that you don’t hear
- Avoiding busy places
- Failing to hear alarms, doorbells, and other important sounds
- Avoiding conversations
- Repeated misunderstandings
Plan on having a heart-to-heart discussion with your loved one if you notice any of these symptoms.
How to talk about hearing loss
Having this discussion may not be easy. A spouse in denial may brush it off or become defensive. That’s why discussing hearing loss in the right way is so crucial. The steps will be essentially the same but maybe with some small modifications based on your particular relationship situation.
- Step 1: Let them know that you love them unconditionally and appreciate your relationship.
- Step 2: You are concerned about their health. You’ve read through the research. You’re aware that an increased risk of depression and dementia comes along with neglected hearing loss. You don’t want your loved one to go through that.
- Step 3: Your own safety and health are also a worry. Your hearing may be harmed by an overly loud TV. In addition, studies show that increased noise can create anxiety, which may affect your relationship. Your loved one may not hear you yelling for help if you have a fall or someone’s broken into the house. People relate to others through emotion. If you can paint an emotional picture of the what-ifs, it will have more impact than just listing facts.
- 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 prepared for opposition. You could encounter these objections at any time in the process. This is a person you know well. What sort of objections will they have? Money? Time? Doesn’t notice a problem? They might feel that homemade remedies will be good enough. (You’re aware that “natural hearing loss cures” don’t actually work and could do more harm than good.)
Have your answers prepared beforehand. Even a little rehearsal can’t hurt. These answers need to address your loved one’s concerns but they don’t need to match those listed above word-for-word
Talking about hearing loss isn’t easy if your partner doesn’t want to discuss it. Openly talking about the impact of hearing loss on your relationship can help to solidify a plan to deal with any communication issues and ensure that both partners are heard and understood. By having this conversation, 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?