It’s something a lot of individuals suffer with, but most don’t want to talk about – hearing loss and its impact on personal relationships. Hearing loss can create communication hurdles that lead to misunderstandings and aggravation for both partners.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner isn’t it a great time to express your love and appreciation for your loved one? Talking about hearing loss together is a great way to do this.
Having “the talk”
Studies have found that an individual with untreated hearing loss is 2.4 times more likely to develop dementia, and that includes Alzheimer’s disease. A cascade effect that will inevitably affect the whole brain will be initiated when the part of your brain in charge of hearing becomes less active. This is referred to as brain atrophy by doctors. It’s the “use it or lose it” idea in action.
Depression numbers amongst those with hearing loss are almost double that of an individual who has healthy hearing. Individuals often become stressed and agitated as their hearing loss worsens according to research. The person could begin to isolate themselves from family and friends. They are also likely to stop involving themselves in the activities they used to enjoy as they sink deeper into a state of depression.
Relationships between family, friends, and others then become tense. It’s important to be patient and work together to find solutions to communication difficulties.
Someone who is experiencing hearing loss might not be ready to talk about it. They might feel shame and fear. Denial may have set in. Deciding when to have the talk may take a bit of detective work.
Here are some external clues you will have to depend on because you can’t hear what other people are hearing:
- Avoiding conversations
- Avoiding busy places
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other sounds that you can’t hear
- Watching television with the volume really high
- Agitation or anxiety in social settings that you haven’t previously observed
- Failing to hear alerts, doorbells, and other important sounds
- Repeated misunderstandings
- Sudden difficulty with work, hobbies, or school
Watch for these prevalent symptoms and plan on having a heart-to-heart chat with your loved one.
What is the best way to talk about hearing loss?
This discussion might not be an easy one to have. A spouse in denial might brush it off or become defensive. That’s why it’s essential to discuss hearing loss in a sensitive and appropriate way. You may need to alter your language based on your unique relationship, but the strategies will be basically the same.
- Step 1: Inform them how much you love them unconditionally and how much you appreciate your relationship.
- Step 2: You are concerned about their health. You’ve read through the research. You’re aware that an increased risk of depression and dementia comes along with neglected hearing loss. You don’t want your loved one to deal with that.
- Step 3: You’re also concerned about your own safety and health. An excessively loud TV could harm your hearing. Also, your relationship can be affected, as studies have shown that excessively loud noise can trigger anxiety. If you have an intruder in your house or you’ve taken a fall, your partner might not hear you yelling for help. People connect with others through emotion. If you can paint an emotional picture of the what-ifs, it’s more impactful than simply listing facts.
- Step 4: Agree together to schedule an appointment to get a hearing test. Do it right away after making the decision. Don’t wait.
- Step 5: Be ready for objections. You could find these oppositions at any point in the process. You know this person. What sort of doubts will they have? Money? Time? Perhaps they don’t detect that it’s a problem. Do they believe they can utilize do-it-yourself methods? (You’re aware that “natural hearing loss cures” don’t really work and could do more harm than good.)
Be prepared with your responses. You might even rehearse them in the mirror. These responses need to address your loved one’s concerns but they don’t need to match those listed above word-for-word
Talking about hearing loss isn’t easy if your partner doesn’t want to talk about it. Developing a plan to tackle potential communication problems and the impact hearing loss can have on your relationship will help both partners have confidence that their concerns will be heard and understood. By doing this, your relationship will get stronger and your loved one will take measures to live a longer, healthier life. And relationships are, after all, about growing together.