It’s something lots of individuals 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 created by hearing loss.
This is the perfect time for you to express your love and appreciation for your loved one with Valentine’s Day just around the corner. A great way to do this is to talk to your loved one about your hearing loss.
Having “the talk”
Studies have revealed that a person with untreated hearing loss is 2.4 times more likely to experience dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. A cascade effect that will eventually affect the entire brain will be initiated when the part of your brain in charge of hearing becomes less engaged. Doctors call this brain atrophy. It’s the “use it or lose it” principle in action.
Depression cases are almost half in people who have normal hearing compared to those who have hearing loss. Individuals frequently become stressed and agitated as their hearing loss progresses according to research. This can lead to the person being self secluded from friends and family. They are also likely to avoid involving themselves in the activities they used to enjoy as they fall deeper into a state of depression.
This, in turn, can lead to relationship stress among mother and son, daughter and father, close friends, spouses, and others in this person’s life. Communication problems need to be handled with patients and compassion.
Your loved one may not be ready to let you know they’re developing hearing loss. They may be afraid or embarrassed. They may be in denial. You may need to do a bit of detective work to figure out when it’s time to have the talk.
Here are a few external clues you will have to rely on because you can’t hear what other people are hearing:
- Not hearing vital sounds, such as the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or somebody calling their name
- Sudden difficulty with work, hobbies, or school
- Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
- Watching TV with the volume extremely high
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other noises that you can’t hear
- Frequent misunderstandings
- Avoiding conversations
- Avoiding busy places
Plan to have a heart-to-heart discussion with your loved one if you notice any of these symptoms.
What is the best way to talk about hearing loss?
Having this talk might not be easy. A loved one could become defensive and brush it off if they’re in denial. That’s why discussing hearing loss in the right way is so crucial. The steps will be basically the same but perhaps with some minor modifications based on your particular relationship situation.
- Step 1: Let them know that you love them without condition and appreciate your relationship.
- Step 2: You are worried about their health. You’ve read the studies. You’re aware 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: You’re also concerned about your own safety and health. An overly loud television could damage your hearing. Also, your relationship can be impacted, as studies have revealed that overly loud noise can cause anxiety. Your loved one may not hear you calling for help if you’ve fallen 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: Schedule an appointment to have your hearing tested together. Do it immediately after making the decision. Don’t wait.
- Step 5: Be prepared for opposition. You could encounter these oppositions at any point in the process. You know this person. What will their objections be? Money? Time? Maybe they don’t detect that it’s an issue. Do they believe they can use homemade methods? (You recognize “natural hearing loss cures” don’t actually work and could do more harm than good.)
Be ready with your responses. You may even rehearse them in the mirror. These responses 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 challenging. Openly talking about the effect of hearing loss on your relationship can help to establish a plan to address any communication issues and make sure that both partners are 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.