It’s something a lot of individuals suffer with, but most don’t want to talk about – hearing loss and its impact on personal relationships. Both partners can feel frustrated by the misunderstandings that are created by hearing loss.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner isn’t it the perfect opportunity to show 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 chance of experiencing cognitive conditions including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease according to some studies. When the part of your brain responsible for hearing becomes less engaged, it can begin a cascade effect that can affect your whole brain. Doctors refer to this as brain atrophy. It’s the “use it or lose it” principle in action.
Depression numbers amongst those with hearing loss are nearly double that of a person with healthy hearing. Individuals often become anxious and agitated as their hearing loss progresses according to research. The individual could begin to separate themselves from family and friends. They are also likely to stop involving themselves in the activities they once enjoyed as they fall deeper into a state of depression.
This, in turn, can lead to relationship strain among mother and son, daughter and father, close friends, spouses, and others in this person’s life. Communication problems need to be handled with patients and compassion.
Your loved one might not be ready to tell you they’re developing hearing loss. They might feel embarrassment and fear. Denial may have set in. You might need to do some detective work to figure out when it’s time to have the talk.
Because you can’t hear what your partner or parent hears, you’ll need to depend on outward cues, such as:
- Failing to hear alarms, doorbells, and other important sounds
- Avoiding conversations
- Sudden difficulty with work, hobbies, or school
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other noises that you can’t hear
- Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
- Cranking the volume way up on your TV
- Avoiding busy places
- Frequent misunderstandings
Look for these prevalent symptoms and plan to have a heart-to-heart conversation with your loved one.
What is the best way to discuss hearing loss?
Having this discussion might not be easy. A loved one may become defensive and brush it off if they’re in denial. That’s why it’s important to approach hearing loss in a sensitive and appropriate way. You may need to alter your language based on your unique relationship, but the strategies will be more or less the same.
- Step 1: Tell them how much you love them without condition and how much you appreciate your relationship.
- Step 2: You’re worried about their health. You’ve read through the studies. You’re aware that a higher 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 concern. An excessively loud television could harm your hearing. Additionally, studies show that increased noise can trigger anxiety, which might impact your relationship. If you have a burglar in your house or you’ve taken a fall, your partner might not hear you yelling for help. People relate to others through emotion. If you can paint an emotional picture of the what-ifs, it’s more impactful than simply listing facts.
- Step 4: Schedule an appointment to get a hearing test together. After you make the decision schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Don’t delay.
- Step 5: Be ready for objections. You could find these objections at any time in the process. This is a person you know well. What sort of objections will they have? Will it be lack of time, or money? Doesn’t see a problem? They may feel that homemade remedies will be just fine. (“Natural hearing loss remedies” aren’t effective and can even be harmful.)
Have your answers prepared ahead of time. Even a bit of rehearsal can’t hurt. They don’t need to match those listed above word-for-word, but they should concentrate on your loved one’s worries.
Talking about hearing loss isn’t easy if your partner doesn’t want to discuss it. Openly talking about the effect of hearing loss on your relationship can help to solidify a plan to address any communication issues and ensure that both partners are heard and understood. In this way, your relationship will grow stronger and your loved one will take steps to live a longer, healthier life. And relationships are, after all, about growing together.