Most people don’t want to talk about the effect hearing loss has on relationships, even though it’s a problem many people cope with. Hearing loss can create communication hurdles that result in misunderstandings and aggravation 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 have a discussion about your hearing loss.
Having “the talk”
Studies have found that an individual with neglected hearing loss is 2.4 times more likely to develop dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. When the part of your brain responsible for hearing becomes less engaged, it can start a cascade effect that can affect your whole brain. Doctors refer to this as brain atrophy. You remember how the old saying goes, “use it or lose it”.
Depression rates amongst people with hearing loss are nearly double that of a person who has healthy hearing. Individuals often become anxious and agitated as their hearing loss worsens according to research. The individual may begin to seclude themselves from friends and family. As they sink deeper into depression, people who have hearing loss are likely to stop participating in the activities they once enjoyed.
This, in turn, can result in relationship strain among mother and son, father and daughter, close friends, spouses, and other people in this person’s life. Communication problems need to be managed with patients and compassion.
Someone who is developing hearing loss might not be ready to talk about it. They may be afraid or ashamed. Denial might have set in. Deciding when to have the conversation may take a little detective work.
Here are some outward clues you will need to depend on because you can’t hear what other people are hearing:
- Avoiding conversations
- Avoiding busy places
- Cranking the volume way up on your TV
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other sounds that you don’t hear
- Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
- Sudden difficulty with work, hobbies, or school
- Frequent misunderstandings
- Not hearing significant sounds, such as the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or somebody calling their name
Look for these common symptoms and plan to have a heart-to-heart chat with your loved one.
How to discuss hearing loss
This talk 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 discussing hearing loss in the right way is so crucial. You might 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 value your relationship.
- Step 2: The state of their health is very important to you. You’ve read the studies. You know that a higher risk of depression and dementia comes along with neglected hearing loss. You don’t want that for your loved one.
- Step 3: Your own safety and health are also a worry. An excessively loud television could harm your hearing. Also, your relationship can be affected, as studies have shown that excessively loud noise can cause anxiety. Your loved one may not hear you yelling for help if you have a fall or somebody’s broken into the house. People relate to others through emotion. If you can paint an emotional picture of the what-ifs, it will have more impact than just listing facts.
- Step 4: Schedule an appointment to get a hearing test together. After you make the decision make an appointment right away. Don’t hold off.
- Step 5: Be prepared for opposition. These could arise anywhere in the process. You know this person. What will their objections be? Will it be lack of time, or money? Doesn’t see an issue? They might feel that home remedies will be just fine. (“Natural hearing loss cures” aren’t effective and can even be harmful.)
Be ready with your answers. You may even practice them in the mirror. These responses need to address your loved one’s Worries but they don’t need to match those listed above word-for-word
If your spouse is unwilling to talk about their hearing loss, it can be difficult. Openly talking about the impact of hearing loss on your relationship can help to solidify a plan to address 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 steps to live a longer, healthier life. And relationships are, after all, about growing together.