It’s something lots of people suffer with, but most don’t want to talk about – hearing loss and its impact on personal relationships. 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 time to express your love and appreciation for your loved one? A great way to do this is to talk to your loved one about your hearing loss.
Having “the talk”
A person experiencing untreated hearing loss has a 2.4 times more likely risk of experiencing cognitive conditions including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease according to some studies. A cascade effect that will eventually impact the entire brain will be caused when the part of your brain responsible for hearing becomes less active. Doctors refer to this as brain atrophy. You remember how the old saying goes, “use it or lose it”.
Depression rates amongst individuals with hearing loss are nearly double that of a person who has healthy hearing. Research shows that as a person’s hearing loss gets worse, they frequently become stressed and agitated. The person may begin to seclude themselves from family and friends. As they sink deeper into sadness, people who have hearing loss are likely to stop taking part in the activities they once enjoyed.
This, as a result, can lead to relationship strain among mother and son, father and daughter, close friends, spouses, and other people in this person’s life. It’s important to be patient and work together to determine solutions to communication difficulties.
Your loved one might not be ready to tell you they are experiencing hearing loss. They may be afraid or ashamed. They may be in denial. You might need to do a bit of detective work to determine when it’s time to have the conversation.
Because you can’t hear what your spouse or parent hears, you’ll need to depend on outward cues, like:
- Agitation or anxiety in social settings that you haven’t previously observed
- Frequent misunderstandings
- Sudden difficulty with work, hobbies, or school
- Avoiding busy places
- Failing to hear alarms, doorbells, and other important sounds
- Complaining about ringing, humming, static, or other sounds that you can’t hear
- Avoiding conversations
- Cranking the volume way up on your TV
Plan to have a heart-to-heart talk with your loved one if you observe any of these symptoms.
How to talk about hearing loss
This talk may not be an easy one to have. A spouse in denial may brush it off or become defensive. That’s why approaching hearing loss in an appropriate manner is so important. The steps will be essentially the same but perhaps with some small alterations based on your specific relationship situation.
- Step 1: Inform them how much you love them unconditionally and how much you value your relationship.
- Step 2: You are concerned about their health. You’ve read through the research. You’re aware that neglected hearing loss can lead to a higher chance of depression and dementia. You don’t want that for your loved one.
- Step 3: Your own safety and health are also a concern. 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. Your loved one may not hear you yelling for help if you have a fall or someone’s broken into the house. People connect with others through emotion. Merely listing facts won’t have as much impact as painting an emotional picture.
- Step 4: Schedule an appointment to have your hearing tested together. After you make the decision make an appointment as soon as possible. Don’t hold off.
- Step 5: Be ready for opposition. You could encounter these objections at any time in the process. This is a person you know well. What will their doubts be? Will it be lack of time, or money? Doesn’t notice a problem? Do they believe they can use homemade remedies? (“Natural hearing loss cures” aren’t effective and can even be harmful.)
Have your answers prepared ahead of time. You might 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 isn’t willing to discuss their hearing loss, it can be difficult. Openly talking about the impact of hearing loss on your relationship can help to establish a plan to deal with 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 rewarding life. Growing together – isn’t that what love is all about?