The majority of individuals don’t want to talk about 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 show your love and appreciation for your loved one with Valentine’s Day just around the corner. A wonderful way to do this is to talk to your loved one about your hearing loss.
Having “the talk”
Studies have found that a person with untreated hearing loss is 2.4 times more likely to experience dementia, and that includes Alzheimer’s disease. A cascade effect that will eventually impact the entire brain will be initiated when the region of your brain responsible for hearing becomes less engaged. Doctors refer to this as brain atrophy. It’s the “use it or lose it” principle in action.
Depression rates among people with hearing loss are almost double that of a person who has healthy hearing. Research shows that as a person’s hearing loss gets worse, they often become stressed and agitated. The individual could start to isolate themselves from friends and family. As they sink deeper into depression, people who have hearing loss are likely to stop engaging in the activities they once enjoyed.
This, in turn, can lead to relationship strain among mother and son, father and daughter, close friends, spouses, and others in this person’s life. It’s important to be patient and work together to find solutions to communication difficulties.
Someone who is developing hearing loss may not be ready to discuss it. They may be afraid or ashamed. They may be in denial. Deciding when to have the conversation may take a bit of detective work.
Here are a few external cues you will need to rely on because you can’t hear what others are hearing:
- Avoiding conversations
- School, work, and hobbies are starting to become difficult
- Not hearing vital sounds, such as the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or somebody calling their name
- Repeated misunderstandings
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other sounds that you don’t hear
- Watching television with the volume really high
- Avoiding busy places
- Agitation or anxiety in social settings that you haven’t previously observed
Plan on having a heart-to-heart discussion with your loved one if you detect any of these symptoms.
How to talk about hearing loss
Having this talk might not be easy. A loved one might become defensive and brush it off if they’re in denial. That’s why it’s essential to approach hearing loss in a sensitive and appropriate way. The steps will be essentially the same but possibly with some small alterations based on your specific relationship situation.
- Step 1: Let them know that you love them without condition and value your relationship.
- Step 2: You’re concerned about their health. You’ve read through the research. You’re aware that neglected hearing loss can result in an increased 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. An excessively loud TV could damage your hearing. In addition, research shows that increased noise can trigger anxiety, which might impact your relationship. If you have a burglar in your house or you’ve fallen down, your partner might not hear you yelling for help. 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: Schedule an appointment to get a hearing test together. After you make the decision schedule an appointment right away. Don’t hold off.
- Step 5: There may be some opposition so be prepared. These could arise anywhere in the process. This is a person you know well. What sort of doubts will they have? Will it be lack of time, or money? Perhaps they don’t detect that it’s a problem. They may feel that home remedies will be good enough. (You recognize “natural hearing loss cures” don’t really work and could cause more harm than good.)
Be ready with your responses. You might even rehearse them in the mirror. They don’t need to match those listed above word-for-word, but they should concentrate on your loved one’s concerns.
If your spouse isn’t willing to talk about their hearing loss, it can be challenging. Developing a plan to deal with potential communication problems 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 doing this, your relationship will grow stronger and your partner will take steps to live a longer, healthier life. Growing together – isn’t that what love is all about?