Most individuals don’t want to talk about the impact hearing loss has on relationships, even though it’s a problem many people cope with. Hearing loss can create communication obstacles that result in misunderstandings and frustration for both partners.
This is the ideal time for you to show your love and appreciation for your loved one with Valentine’s Day right around the corner. A wonderful 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. A cascade effect that will inevitably impact the entire brain will be initiated when the part 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 rates are nearly half in people who have healthy hearing compared to those who have hearing loss. People often become stressed and agitated as their hearing loss progresses according to research. The individual may begin to separate themselves from friends and family. They are also likely to avoid getting involved in the activities they once enjoyed as they sink deeper into a state of depression.
This, as a result, can result in relationship stress among mother and son, daughter and father, close friends, spouses, and other people in this person’s life. Communication problems need to be managed with patients and compassion.
Your loved one might not be ready to tell you they are developing hearing loss. They may be afraid or ashamed. They could be in denial. Deciding when to have the talk may take a little detective work.
Because you can’t hear what your spouse or parent hears, you’ll need to rely on external cues, like:
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other noises that you don’t hear
- Frequent misunderstandings
- Sudden difficulty with work, hobbies, or school
- Cranking the volume way up on your TV
- Avoiding conversations
- Failing to hear alerts, doorbells, and other essential sounds
- Avoiding busy places
- Agitation or anxiety in social settings that you haven’t previously observed
Plan to have a heart-to-heart talk with your loved one if you observe any of these symptoms.
What is the best way to talk about hearing loss?
This talk might not be an easy one to have. A partner in denial may brush it off or become defensive. That’s why it’s crucial to approach hearing loss in a sensitive and appropriate way. The steps will be pretty much the same but possibly with some minor modifications based on your specific relationship situation.
- Step 1: Let them know that you love them unconditionally and value your relationship.
- Step 2: You are worried about their health. 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 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 revealed that excessively loud noise can cause anxiety. If you have a burglar in your house or you’ve taken a fall, your partner may not hear you calling for help. People connect with others through emotion. If you can paint an emotional picture of the what-ifs, it will have more impact than merely listing facts.
- Step 4: Make an appointment to get a hearing test together. After you make the decision make an appointment right away. Don’t wait.
- Step 5: There might be some objections so be prepared. You could encounter these oppositions at any time in the process. You know this person. What will their objections be? Money? Time? Possibly they don’t detect that it’s a problem. Do they think they can utilize homemade remedies? (You know “natural hearing loss cures” don’t really work and could cause more harm than good.)
Be prepared with your answers. Even a bit of rehearsal can’t hurt. They don’t have to match those listed above word-for-word, but they should address your loved one’s worries.
If your partner isn’t willing to talk about their hearing loss, it can be difficult. Developing a plan to deal with potential communication problems and the impact hearing loss can have on your relationship will help both partners have confidence that their worries will be heard and understood. By having this conversation, you’ll grow closer and get your partner the help they need to live a longer, healthier, more rewarding life. Growing together – isn’t that what love is all about?