Want to show how much you care? Really listen when your loved ones talk to you. But you have to be able to hear in order to really listen.
Research demonstrates one in three adults between 65 and 74 is coping with hearing loss and millions would benefit from using a hearing aid. But only 30% of those people actually wear hearing aids, unfortunately.
Diminishing hearing, depression, higher instances of dementia, and strained relationships are some outcomes of this inaction. Many individuals experiencing hearing loss simply suffer in silence.
But spring is almost here. It’s a time for new foliage, flowers, new beginnings, and growing together. Talking candidly about hearing loss can be a superb way to renew relationships.
Having “The Talk” is Important
Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, is 2.4 times more likely in individuals who have untreated hearing loss according to several studies. A cascade effect that ultimately impacts the entire brain can be initiated when there’s decreased activity in the region of your brain responsible for hearing. Doctors call this brain atrophy. It’s an example of the “use it or lose it” principle at work.
Depression rates among those with hearing loss are nearly twice that of someone with normal hearing. People who have deteriorating hearing loss, according to research, often experience agitation and anxiety. Separation from family and friends is often the result. They’re likely to sink deeper into depression as they stop engaging in activities once loved.
This, in turn, can lead to relationship strain amongst spouses, but also between parent and child, close friends, and other people in this person’s life.
Solving The Puzzle
Your loved one may not think they can talk to you about their hearing issues. Fear or embarrassment may be an issue for them. They might be in denial. You may need to do some detective work to determine when it’s time to have the conversation.
Since you can’t hear what your loved one hears, you’ll have to depend on external cues, like:
- Cranking the volume way up on the TV
- Sudden difficulty with work, hobbies, or school
- Experiencing a ringing, humming, static, or other sounds that you can’t hear
- Avoiding conversations
- Steering clear of settings with lots of activity and people
- Misunderstanding situations more often
- New levels of anxiousness in social settings
- Not hearing imperative sounds, like the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or somebody calling their name
Plan on having a heart-to-heart conversation with your loved one if you observe any of these common symptoms.
How to Talk About Hearing Loss
Having this conversation might not be easy. A companion in denial may brush it off or become defensive. That’s why approaching hearing loss in the proper way is so important. The steps will be the basically same although you may need to modify your language based on your individual relationship.
Step 1: Make them aware that you value your relationship and have unconditional love for them.
Step 2: You are worried about their health. You’ve done the research. You’re aware of the higher dementia risk and depression that accompany neglected hearing loss. That’s not what you want for your loved one.
Step 3: Your own health and safety are also a worry. Your hearing can be damaged by overly high volumes on the TV and other devices. In addition, studies show that elevated noise can cause anxiety, which may impact your relationship. If somebody has broken into your home, or you call out for help, your loved one might not hear you.
People connect with others by using emotion. If you can paint an emotional picture of the what-ifs, it’s more impactful than simply listing facts.
Step 4: Come to an understanding that it’s time for a hearing exam. After making the decision, make the appointment immediately. Don’t wait.
Step 5: Be prepared for your loved ones to have some objections. At any point during the process, they could have these objections. You know this person. What will their objections be? Costs? Time? Are they convinced it’s not a big deal? Are they thinking about trying out home remedies? You understand “natural hearing loss cures” don’t actually work and could do more harm than good.
Prepare your counter responses. You might even rehearse them in the mirror. You should address your loved one’s concerns but you don’t have to adhere to this exact plan word-for-word.
Grow Your Relationship
If your loved one is unwilling to talk, it can be a difficult situation. But you’ll get your loved one the help they need to live a long healthy life and grow closer by having this discussion. Growing together – isn’t that what love is all about?