Most people don’t want to talk about the impact hearing loss has on relationships, even though it’s an issue many people deal with. Hearing loss can cause communication barriers 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 right around the corner. A great way to do this is to have a discussion about your hearing loss.
Having “the talk”
A person with neglected hearing loss has a 2.4 times more likely chance of experiencing cognitive conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease according to some studies. When the part of your brain used for hearing becomes less engaged, it can start a cascade effect that can affect your whole brain. Doctors call this brain atrophy. It’s the “use it or lose it” principle in action.
Depression numbers amongst individuals who have hearing loss are nearly double that of an individual who has healthy hearing. People frequently become anxious and agitated as their hearing loss progresses according to research. The individual could start to seclude themselves from friends and family. As they sink deeper into depression, people with hearing loss are likely to stop participating in the activities they once enjoyed.
Relationships between family, friends, and others then become strained. Communication issues need to be handled with patients and compassion.
Someone who is experiencing hearing loss might not be ready to discuss it. They might be afraid or embarrassed. Denial may have set in. You may need to do a bit of detective work to determine when it’s time to have the conversation.
Here are some external cues you will have to depend on because you can’t hear what other people are hearing:
- Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
- Complaining about ringing, humming, static, or other sounds that you don’t hear
- Failing to hear alerts, doorbells, and other important sounds
- Sudden difficulty with work, hobbies, or school
- Avoiding busy places
- Avoiding conversations
- Cranking the volume way up on your TV
- Repeated misunderstandings
Look for these prevalent symptoms and plan to have a heart-to-heart conversation with your loved one.
What is the best way to discuss hearing loss?
Having this talk might not be easy. A loved one may become defensive and brush it off if they’re in denial. That’s why discussing hearing loss in an appropriate manner is so relevant. You might need to alter your language based on your unique relationship, but the strategies will be more or less the same.
- Step 1: Inform 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 the studies. You’re aware that neglected hearing loss can lead to an increased chance of depression and dementia. You don’t want your loved one to experience that.
- Step 3: Your own safety and health are also a concern. An excessively loud TV could harm your hearing. Also, your relationship can be affected, as studies have revealed that overly loud noise can trigger anxiety. Your loved one might not hear you yelling for help if you’ve fallen or someone’s broken into the house. People connect with 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: Make an appointment to have your hearing tested together. Do it immediately after making the decision. Don’t wait.
- Step 5: Be prepared for opposition. You could encounter these objections at any point in the process. This is a person you know well. What will their objections be? Will it be lack of time, or money? Possibly they don’t detect that it’s 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 ahead of time. Even a little practice can’t hurt. They don’t need to match those listed above word-for-word, but they should concentrate on your loved one’s worries.
If your partner isn’t willing to discuss their hearing loss, it can be difficult. Establishing a plan to deal with potential communication problems and the effect hearing loss can have on your relationship will help both partners have confidence that their concerns will be heard and understood. By having this discussion, 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.