It’s something lots of people cope with, but most don’t want to talk about – hearing loss and its effect on personal relationships. Both partners can feel aggravated by the misunderstandings that are caused by hearing loss.
This is the ideal time for you to express your love and appreciation for your loved one with Valentine’s Day right around the corner. Discussing hearing loss together is a great way to do this.
Having “the talk”
A person with neglected hearing loss has a 2.4 times more likely risk of developing cognitive disorders including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease according to some studies. When the region of your brain responsible for hearing becomes less active, it can begin a cascade effect that can affect your whole brain. Doctors call this brain atrophy. It’s the “use it or lose it” idea in action.
Depression numbers among people who have hearing loss are nearly double that of an individual who has healthy hearing. Studies have shown that as a person’s hearing loss progresses, they often become anxious and agitated. The person may start to separate themselves from family and friends. As they sink deeper into depression, people with hearing loss are likely to avoid taking part in the activities they once enjoyed.
This, in turn, can result in relationship stress 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.
Your loved one may not be ready to let you know they’re experiencing hearing loss. They might be afraid or ashamed. Denial might have set in. You might need to do some detective work to figure out when it’s time to have the conversation.
Here are a few outward clues you will need to depend on because you can’t hear what others are hearing:
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other noises that you don’t hear
- Agitation or anxiety in social settings that you haven’t previously observed
- Frequent misunderstandings
- Sudden difficulty with work, hobbies, or school
- Avoiding busy places
- Avoiding conversations
- Not hearing important sounds, such as the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or someone calling their name
- Cranking the volume way up on your TV
Plan to have a heart-to-heart discussion with your loved one if you notice any of these symptoms.
How 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 perhaps with some minor modifications based on your particular relationship situation.
- Step 1: Tell them that you love them without condition and value your relationship.
- Step 2: The state of their health is important to you. You’ve read through the studies. You’re aware that neglected hearing loss can lead to an increased risk of depression and dementia. That’s not what you want for your loved one.
- Step 3: Your own safety and health are also a concern. An overly loud TV could harm your hearing. Also, your relationship can be impacted, as studies have revealed that overly loud noise can trigger anxiety. Your loved one might not hear you yelling for help if you have a fall or somebody’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: Agree together to make an appointment to get a hearing exam. 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 objections at any time in the process. This is a person you know well. What will their objections be? Money? Time? Possibly they don’t detect that it’s an issue. They may feel that home remedies will be good enough. (“Natural hearing loss remedies” are not effective and can even be harmful.)
Be prepared with your responses. 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.
Discussing hearing loss isn’t easy if your partner isn’t willing to discuss it. Openly talking about the impact of hearing loss on your relationship can help to establish a plan to address any communication challenges and ensure that both partners are heard and understood. By having this conversation, you’ll grow closer and get your loved one the help they need to live a longer, healthier, more fulfilling life. And relationships are, after all, about growing together.