It’s something a lot of people suffer with, but few want to talk about – hearing loss and its effect on personal relationships. Both partners can feel aggravated by the misunderstandings that are created by hearing loss.
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. Discussing hearing loss together is an ideal way to do this.
Having “the talk”
Studies have found that an individual with untreated hearing loss is 2.4 times more likely to experience dementia, and that includes Alzheimer’s disease. A cascade effect that will ultimately affect the whole brain will be caused when the region of your brain in charge of hearing becomes less engaged. Doctors refer to this as brain atrophy. You know how the old saying goes, “use it or lose it”.
Depression numbers among individuals who have hearing loss are nearly twice that of an individual who has healthy hearing. Studies have shown that as a person’s hearing loss progresses, they frequently become anxious and agitated. This can lead to the person being self isolated from family and friends. They are also likely to avoid involving themselves in the activities they once enjoyed as they sink 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.
Somebody who is experiencing hearing loss may not be ready to discuss it. They may feel embarrassment and fear. They could be in denial. Deciding when to have the talk may take a little detective work.
Since you can’t hear what your spouse or parent hears, you’ll have to depend on outward cues, like:
- Avoiding conversations
- Turning the volume way up on your TV
- Frequent misunderstandings
- Avoiding busy places
- School, work, and hobbies are starting to become difficult
- Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
- Not hearing significant sounds, like the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or someone calling their name
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other noises that you can’t hear
Watch for these prevalent symptoms and plan to have a heart-to-heart talk with your loved one.
How to talk about hearing loss
This talk may not be an easy one to have. A loved one may become defensive and brush it off if they’re in denial. That’s why approaching hearing loss in an appropriate manner is so important. You might need to alter your language based on your unique relationship, but the strategies will be basically the same.
- Step 1: Let them know that you love them unconditionally and value your relationship.
- Step 2: The state of their health is important to you. You’ve read the studies. You know that an increased risk of depression and dementia comes along with neglected hearing loss. You don’t want your loved one to experience that.
- Step 3: Your own safety and health are also a concern. An overly loud television could harm your hearing. Also, your relationship can be affected, as studies have shown that excessively loud noise can trigger anxiety. Your loved one might not hear you yelling for help if you’ve fallen or somebody’s broken into the house. Emotion is a strong way to connect with others. If you can paint an emotional picture of the what-ifs, it’s more impactful than simply listing facts.
- Step 4: Decide together to make an appointment to get a hearing assessment. Do it immediately after making the decision. Don’t hold off.
- Step 5: Be ready for objections. You could encounter these oppositions at any point 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? Maybe they don’t detect that it’s a problem. They may feel that homemade remedies will be just fine. (You’re aware that “natural hearing loss cures” don’t actually work and could cause more harm than good.)
Have your responses prepared ahead of time. Even a little practice can’t hurt. They don’t have to match those listed above word-for-word, but they should concentrate on your loved one’s worries.
If your spouse is unwilling to discuss their hearing loss, it can be difficult. Openly talking about the impact 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. By having this talk, you’ll grow closer and get your loved one the help they need to live a longer, healthier, more rewarding life. And relationships are, after all, about growing together.