It’s something lots of people cope with, but few want to talk about – hearing loss and its effect on personal relationships. Both partners can feel frustrated by the misunderstandings that are created by hearing loss.
This is the ideal time for you to express your love and appreciation for your loved one with Valentine’s Day right around the corner. Discussing hearing loss together is an ideal way to do this.
Having “the talk”
Studies have revealed that an individual with untreated hearing loss is 2.4 times more likely to experience dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. 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 call this brain atrophy. You know how the old saying goes, “use it or lose it”.
Depression numbers amongst people who have hearing loss are almost twice that of an individual who has healthy hearing. People frequently become stressed and agitated as their hearing loss worsens according to research. The individual may begin to isolate themselves from family and friends. As they fall deeper into sadness, people who have hearing loss are likely to stop engaging in the activities they once enjoyed.
Relationships between family, friends, and others then become strained. It’s important to be patient and work together to determine solutions to communication difficulties.
Somebody who is developing hearing loss might not be ready to talk about it. They may be afraid or ashamed. They could be in denial. Deciding when to have the talk could take a bit of detective work.
Because you can’t hear what your partner or parent hears, you’ll need to rely on outward cues, like:
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other noises that you can’t hear
- Watching television with the volume extremely high
- Sudden difficulty with work, hobbies, or school
- Avoiding busy places
- Avoiding conversations
- Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
- Repeated misunderstandings
- Not hearing significant sounds, like the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or someone calling their name
Plan on having a heart-to-heart discussion with your loved one if you observe any of these symptoms.
How to talk about hearing loss
Having this conversation may not be easy. A loved one could become defensive and brush it off if they’re in denial. That’s why approaching hearing loss in the right way is so important. You might need to alter your language based on your unique relationship, but the steps will be basically the same.
- Step 1: Tell them how much you love them unconditionally and how much you appreciate your relationship.
- Step 2: You are worried about their health. You’ve read through the studies. You know that untreated hearing loss can result in an increased risk of dementia and depression. You don’t want that for your loved one.
- Step 3: You’re also worried about your own safety and health. Your hearing could be harmed by an excessively loud TV. Additionally, studies show that elevated noise can create anxiety, which might impact your relationship. If you have an intruder in your house or you’ve taken a fall, your partner may not hear you calling for help. People connect with others through emotion. Simply listing facts won’t have as much impact as painting an emotional picture.
- Step 4: Make an appointment to have your hearing tested together. Do it immediately after making the decision. Don’t delay.
- Step 5: Be ready for objections. You could find these oppositions at any time in the process. This is a person you know well. What kind of doubts will they have? Money? Time? Doesn’t notice a problem? They may feel that homemade remedies will be just fine. (“Natural hearing loss remedies” are not effective and can even be harmful.)
Have your answers prepared beforehand. Even a little practice can’t hurt. They don’t need to match those listed above word-for-word, but they should address your loved one’s concerns.
Discussing hearing loss isn’t easy if your significant other doesn’t want to talk about it. Openly discussing the effect of hearing loss on your relationship can help to establish a plan to address any communication issues and make sure that both partners are heard and understood. In this way, your relationship will get stronger and your partner will take measures to live a longer, healthier life. Growing together – isn’t that what love is all about?