The majority of people don’t want to discuss the impact hearing loss has on relationships, even though it’s a problem many people cope with. Both partners can feel frustrated by the misunderstandings that are created by hearing loss.
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner isn’t it the perfect opportunity to express your love and appreciation for your loved one? Discussing hearing loss together is an ideal 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, including Alzheimer’s disease. When the part of your brain used for hearing becomes less active, it can start a cascade effect that can affect your entire brain. Doctors call this brain atrophy. It’s the “use it or lose it” idea in action.
Depression numbers among individuals with hearing loss are almost double that of an individual with healthy hearing. Studies have shown that as a person’s hearing loss worsens, they often become anxious and agitated. This can result in the person being self secluded from friends and family. As they fall deeper into depression, people with hearing loss are likely to stop taking part in the activities they once enjoyed.
Relationships between family, friends, and others then become tense. Communication issues need to be handled with patients and compassion.
Someone who is developing hearing loss might not be ready to talk about it. They might feel embarrassment and fear. Denial may have set in. Deciding when to have the talk could take a bit of detective work.
Because you can’t hear what your partner or parent hears, you’ll have to rely on outward clues, such as:
- Not hearing important sounds, like the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or somebody calling their name
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other noises that you don’t hear
- Frequent misunderstandings
- Avoiding conversations
- Turning the volume way up on your TV
- Agitation or anxiety in social settings that you haven’t previously observed
- Avoiding busy places
- School, work, and hobbies are starting to become difficult
Watch for these prevalent symptoms and plan to have a heart-to-heart talk with your loved one.
How to discuss hearing loss
This talk may not be an easy one to have. A spouse in denial might brush it off or become defensive. That’s why discussing hearing loss in the right way is so relevant. You might need to alter your language based on your unique relationship, but the steps will be basically the same.
- Step 1: Let them know that you love them unconditionally and appreciate your relationship.
- Step 2: You are worried about their health. You’ve read through the studies. You know that untreated hearing loss can lead to an increased chance of depression and dementia. That’s not what you want for your loved one.
- Step 3: You’re also worried about your own health and safety. An overly loud television could damage your hearing. Also, your relationship can be affected, as studies have shown that excessively loud noise can cause anxiety. If you have an intruder in your house or you’ve fallen down, your partner might not hear you yelling 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: Agree together to make an appointment to get a hearing assessment. Do it right away after making the decision. Don’t delay.
- Step 5: There may be some objections so be ready. These could arise at any time in the process. This is a person you know well. What will their doubts be? Money? Time? Doesn’t see an issue? Do they believe they can utilize homemade remedies? (You’re aware that “natural hearing loss cures” don’t really work and could cause more harm than good.)
Have your responses prepared ahead of time. Even a little practice can’t hurt. These answers need to address your loved one’s Worries but they don’t have to match those listed above word-for-word
If your spouse is unwilling to discuss their hearing loss, it can be difficult. Establishing 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 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 fulfilling life. And relationships are, after all, about growing together.