Most people don’t want to talk about the effect hearing loss has on relationships, even though it’s a problem many people deal with. Hearing loss can cause communication obstacles that result in misunderstandings and aggravation for both partners.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner isn’t it the perfect opportunity to express your love and appreciation for your loved one? A wonderful way to do this is to have a discussion about your hearing loss.
Having “the talk”
A person with untreated hearing loss has a 2.4 times more likely chance of experiencing cognitive disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease according to some studies. A cascade effect that will ultimately impact the whole brain will be caused when the region of your brain responsible for hearing becomes less active. This is referred to as brain atrophy by doctors. You remember how the old saying goes, “use it or lose it”.
Depression rates among individuals with hearing loss are nearly twice that of an individual who has healthy hearing. Research shows that as a person’s hearing loss worsens, they often become stressed and agitated. This can lead to the person being self secluded from family and friends. As they fall deeper into sadness, people who have hearing loss are likely to avoid engaging in the activities they once enjoyed.
Relationships between family, friends, and others then become tense. It’s important to be patient and work together to determine solutions to communication difficulties.
Someone who is experiencing hearing loss may not be ready to discuss it. They might be afraid or embarrassed. Denial might have set in. You may need to do a bit of detective work to determine when it’s time to have the talk.
Since you can’t hear what your spouse or parent hears, you’ll have to rely on outward clues, like:
- Avoiding conversations
- Avoiding busy places
- Frequent misunderstandings
- Complaining about ringing, humming, static, or other sounds that you don’t hear
- Turning the volume way up on your TV
- Sudden difficulty with work, hobbies, or school
- Not hearing important sounds, such as the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or somebody calling their name
- Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
Plan to have a heart-to-heart talk with your loved one if you notice any of these symptoms.
What is the best way to discuss hearing loss?
This discussion may not be an easy one to have. A loved one might 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 may need to modify your language based on your unique relationship, but the steps will be more or less the same.
- Step 1: Tell them how much you love them without condition and how much you appreciate your relationship.
- Step 2: The state of their health is important to you. You’ve read through the studies. You know that an increased risk of depression and dementia comes along with untreated hearing loss. You don’t want your loved one to deal with that.
- Step 3: Your own safety and health are also a concern. An overly loud television could damage your hearing. In addition, research shows that increased noise can create anxiety, which may impact your relationship. If you have a burglar in your house or you’ve fallen down, your partner may not hear you calling for help. Emotion is a strong way to connect with others. If you can paint an emotional picture of the what-ifs, it will have more impact than simply listing facts.
- Step 4: Make an appointment to have your hearing tested together. After you make the decision make an appointment right away. Don’t wait.
- Step 5: There might be some opposition so be prepared. You could encounter these oppositions at any time in the process. This is a person you know well. What kind of doubts will they have? Will it be lack of time, or money? Possibly they don’t see that it’s a problem. Do they believe they can utilize homemade remedies? (“Natural hearing loss remedies” aren’t effective and can even be harmful.)
Be ready with your answers. You may even rehearse them in the mirror. They don’t have to match those listed above word-for-word, but they should concentrate on your loved one’s concerns.
Talking about hearing loss isn’t easy if your partner isn’t willing to discuss it. Openly discussing the impact of hearing loss on your relationship can help to establish a plan to deal with any communication challenges and make sure that both partners are heard and understood. By having this talk, you’ll grow closer and get your partner the help they need to live a longer, healthier, more rewarding life. And relationships are, after all, about growing together.