The majority of people don’t want to discuss the effect hearing loss has on relationships, even though it’s an issue many people deal with. Hearing loss can create communication hurdles that lead to misunderstandings and frustration for both partners.
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner isn’t it a great opportunity to express your love and appreciation for your loved one? Discussing hearing loss together is a great way to do this.
Having “the talk”
A person with untreated hearing loss has a 2.4 times more likely chance of developing cognitive conditions including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease according to some studies. A cascade effect that will inevitably affect the whole brain will be caused when the part of your brain in charge of hearing becomes less active. This is called brain atrophy by doctors. You remember how the old saying goes, “use it or lose it”.
Depression cases are almost half in people who have healthy hearing compared to people who have hearing loss. People often become stressed and agitated as their hearing loss worsens according to research. The individual could begin to separate themselves from family and friends. They are also likely to avoid involving themselves in the activities they once enjoyed as they sink deeper into a state of sadness.
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. It’s essential to be patient and work together to find solutions to communication challenges.
Your loved one may not be ready to tell you they’re developing hearing loss. They might feel embarrassment and fear. Denial might have set in. You might need to do some detective work to determine when it’s time to have the conversation.
Since you can’t hear what your spouse or parent hears, you’ll have to depend on outward cues, such as:
- Not hearing vital sounds, such as the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or someone calling their name
- Cranking the volume way up on your TV
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other sounds that you can’t hear
- Repeated misunderstandings
- Avoiding conversations
- Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
- School, work, and hobbies are starting to become difficult
- Avoiding busy places
Plan to have a heart-to-heart talk with your loved one if you detect any of these symptoms.
What is the best way to discuss hearing loss?
Having this talk might not be easy. A spouse in denial may brush it off or become defensive. That’s why it’s important to approach hearing loss in a sensitive and appropriate way. The steps will be basically the same but maybe with some minor alterations 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 the studies. You know that untreated hearing loss can lead to a higher chance of depression and dementia. You don’t want your loved one to experience that.
- Step 3: Your own safety and health are also a concern. An overly loud TV could harm your hearing. Also, your relationship can be affected, as studies have shown that overly loud noise can trigger 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. Simply listing facts won’t have as much impact as painting an emotional picture.
- Step 4: Make an appointment to get a hearing test together. Do it right away after making the decision. Don’t delay.
- Step 5: Be ready for objections. You could encounter these objections at any time in the process. You know this person. What will their objections be? Will it be lack of time, or money? Perhaps they don’t detect that it’s a problem. Do they believe they can utilize homemade remedies? (You know “natural hearing loss cures” don’t really work and could cause more harm than good.)
Have your responses prepared ahead of time. Even a bit of practice can’t hurt. They don’t have to match those listed above word-for-word, but they should concentrate on your loved one’s concerns.
Talking about hearing loss isn’t easy if your significant other isn’t willing to discuss it. Openly discussing the impact of hearing loss on your relationship can help to establish a plan to deal with any communication issues and ensure that both partners are heard and understood. In this way, your relationship will get stronger and your loved one will take steps to live a longer, healthier life. And relationships are, after all, about growing together.