Most people don’t want to discuss 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 created by hearing loss.
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner isn’t it the perfect time to show your love and appreciation for your loved one? A wonderful way to do this is to talk to your loved one about your hearing loss.
Having “the talk”
Studies have found that an individual with neglected hearing loss is 2.4 times more likely to experience dementia, and that includes Alzheimer’s disease. A cascade effect that will inevitably impact the whole brain will be caused when the part of your brain responsible for hearing becomes less active. This is referred to as brain atrophy by doctors. It’s the “use it or lose it” idea in action.
Depression rates amongst those who have hearing loss are almost twice that of a person with healthy hearing. Individuals frequently become stressed and agitated as their hearing loss worsens according to research. The person could begin to separate themselves from friends and family. They are also likely to avoid getting involved in the activities they once enjoyed as they fall deeper into a state of sadness.
Relationships between family, friends, and others then become tense. Communication issues need to be handled with patients and compassion.
Someone who is developing hearing loss might not be ready to talk about it. They might feel shame and fear. Denial might have set in. You might need to do a bit of detective work to figure out when it’s time to have the conversation.
Here are a few outward cues you will have to depend on because you can’t hear what others are hearing:
- School, work, and hobbies are starting to become difficult
- Failing to hear alarms, doorbells, and other important sounds
- Agitation or anxiety in social settings that you haven’t previously observed
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other noises that you can’t hear
- Avoiding conversations
- Avoiding busy places
- Watching TV with the volume very high
- Repeated misunderstandings
Plan on having a heart-to-heart talk with your loved one if you detect any of these symptoms.
How to discuss hearing loss
Having this discussion may not be easy. A loved one could become defensive and brush it off if they’re in denial. That’s why discussing hearing loss in an appropriate manner is so crucial. You may need to alter your language based on your unique relationship, but the steps will be basically the same.
- Step 1: Tell them that you love them unconditionally and appreciate your relationship.
- Step 2: You are worried about their health. You’ve seen the research. You’re aware that an increased risk of depression and dementia comes along with untreated hearing loss. You don’t want your loved one to experience that.
- Step 3: You’re also worried about your own health and safety. An excessively loud television could harm your hearing. Additionally, studies show that elevated noise can cause anxiety, which may impact your relationship. If you have a burglar in your house or you’ve taken a fall, your partner may not hear you calling for help. Emotion is a powerful way to connect with others. If you can paint an emotional picture of the what-ifs, it’s more impactful than merely listing facts.
- Step 4: Decide together to make an appointment to get a hearing test. Do it immediately after making the decision. Don’t delay.
- Step 5: Be prepared for opposition. These could occur anywhere in the process. This is a person you know well. What will their doubts be? Money? Time? Maybe they don’t detect that it’s an issue. They might feel that home remedies will be good enough. (“Natural hearing loss cures” are not effective and can even be harmful.)
Be ready with your answers. You might even rehearse 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
If your partner isn’t willing to discuss their hearing loss, it can be challenging. Openly talking about the impact of hearing loss on your relationship can help to solidify a plan to deal with any communication challenges and ensure that both partners are heard and understood. In this way, your relationship will get stronger and your loved one will take measures to live a longer, healthier life. And relationships are, after all, about growing together.