It’s something a lot of people cope with, but most don’t want to talk about – hearing loss and its effect on personal relationships. Hearing loss can cause communication barriers that lead to misunderstandings and aggravation 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 talk to your loved one about your hearing loss.
Having “the talk”
A person experiencing neglected hearing loss has a 2.4 times more likely risk of experiencing cognitive conditions including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease according to some studies. When the region of your brain responsible for hearing becomes less engaged, it can begin a cascade effect that can impact your entire brain. Doctors refer to this as brain atrophy. You remember how the old saying goes, “use it or lose it”.
Depression rates are almost half in people who have normal hearing compared to people who have hearing loss. Individuals frequently become stressed and agitated as their hearing loss worsens according to research. This can result in the person being self isolated from family and friends. As they fall deeper into depression, people who have hearing loss are likely to avoid taking part 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.
Somebody who is developing hearing loss may not be ready to talk about it. They might feel shame and fear. They could be in denial. You may need to do some detective work to figure out when it’s time to have the talk.
Here are a few outward clues you will need to rely on because you can’t hear what other people are hearing:
- Cranking the volume way up on your TV
- Sudden difficulty with work, hobbies, or school
- Avoiding conversations
- Avoiding busy places
- Frequent misunderstandings
- Complaining about ringing, humming, static, or other noises that you can’t hear
- Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
- Failing to hear alarms, doorbells, and other significant sounds
Watch for these common symptoms and plan to have a heart-to-heart conversation with your loved one.
How to discuss hearing loss
Having this conversation may not be easy. A loved one may become defensive and brush it off if they’re in denial. That’s why it’s essential to discuss hearing loss in a sensitive and appropriate way. The steps will be essentially the same but possibly with some minor modifications based on your particular relationship situation.
- Step 1: Let them know that you love them without condition and value your relationship.
- Step 2: The state of their health is very important to you. You’ve read through the research. You know that an increased risk of depression and dementia comes along with untreated hearing loss. You don’t want that for your loved one.
- Step 3: Your own safety and health are also a concern. An overly loud television could damage your hearing. Also, your relationship can be affected, as studies have shown that overly loud noise can cause anxiety. Your loved one may not hear you yelling for help if you have a fall or somebody’s broken into the house. Emotion is a powerful way to connect with others. Simply listing facts won’t have as much impact as painting an emotional picture.
- Step 4: Agree together to schedule an appointment to get a hearing assessment. After you make the decision make an appointment right away. Don’t wait.
- Step 5: There may be some objections so be ready. These could happen anywhere in the process. You know this person. What will their doubts be? Will it be lack of time, or money? Doesn’t see a problem? Do they believe they can utilize homemade methods? (“Natural hearing loss cures” are not effective and can even be harmful.)
Have your answers prepared beforehand. Even a bit of rehearsal can’t hurt. These responses need to address your loved one’s Worries but they don’t need to match those listed above word-for-word
If your partner isn’t willing to talk about their hearing loss, it can be challenging. Openly talking about the impact of hearing loss on your relationship can help to solidify a plan to deal with any communication challenges and make sure 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 rewarding life. And relationships are, after all, about growing together.