It’s something a lot of people cope with, but most don’t want to talk about – hearing loss and its impact on personal relationships. Hearing loss can cause communication hurdles that result in misunderstandings and frustration for both partners.
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 great way to do this is to talk to your loved one about your hearing loss.
Having “the talk”
Studies have revealed that a person with untreated hearing loss is 2.4 times more likely to develop dementia, and that includes Alzheimer’s disease. A cascade effect that will inevitably impact the whole brain will be initiated when the part of your brain in charge of hearing becomes less engaged. Doctors refer to this as brain atrophy. You remember how the old saying goes, “use it or lose it”.
Depression numbers among people with hearing loss are almost twice that of an individual with healthy hearing. Research shows that as a person’s hearing loss progresses, they often become stressed and agitated. The person may begin to separate themselves from friends and family. They are also likely to stop getting involved in the activities they used to enjoy as they fall deeper into a state of depression.
This, as a result, can result in relationship strain among mother and son, father and daughter, close friends, spouses, and other people in this person’s life. It’s important to be patient and work together to find solutions to communication challenges.
Your loved one might not be ready to inform you they’re developing hearing loss. They might be afraid or embarrassed. They could 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 spouse or parent hears, you’ll need to rely on external clues, such as:
- Turning the volume way up on your TV
- Sudden difficulty with work, hobbies, or school
- Agitation or anxiety in social settings that you haven’t previously observed
- Avoiding conversations
- Repeated misunderstandings
- Not hearing important sounds, such as the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or somebody calling their name
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other sounds that you don’t hear
- Avoiding busy places
Plan on having a heart-to-heart discussion with your loved one if you detect any of these symptoms.
How to discuss hearing loss
This talk may not be an easy one to have. A spouse in denial may brush it off or become defensive. That’s why it’s essential to discuss hearing loss in a sensitive and appropriate way. You might need to alter your language based on your unique relationship, but the steps will be more or less the same.
- Step 1: Tell them that you love them without condition and appreciate your relationship.
- Step 2: The state of their health is important to you. You’ve seen the research. You’re aware that a higher risk of depression and dementia comes along with untreated hearing loss. You don’t want your loved one to go through that.
- Step 3: You’re also worried about your own safety and health. An excessively loud TV could damage your hearing. Additionally, research shows that increased noise can create anxiety, which might impact your relationship. Your loved one might not hear you calling for help if you’ve fallen or somebody’s broken into the house. Emotion is a strong way to connect with others. Simply listing facts won’t be as impactful as painting an emotional picture.
- Step 4: Make an appointment to have your hearing tested together. Do it right away after making the decision. Don’t delay.
- Step 5: Be prepared for objections. These could happen anywhere in the process. This is a person you know well. What will their objections be? Will it be lack of time, or money? Doesn’t notice a problem? They might feel that homemade remedies will be just fine. (“Natural hearing loss cures” are not effective and can even be harmful.)
Be ready with your answers. You might even practice 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 worries.
Discussing hearing loss isn’t easy if your partner doesn’t want to talk about it. Establishing a plan to tackle potential communication challenges and the effect hearing loss can have on your relationship will help both partners have confidence that their worries will be heard and understood. In this way, your relationship will grow stronger and your partner will take measures to live a longer, healthier life. Growing together – isn’t that what love is all about?