Most individuals don’t want to talk about the effect hearing loss has on relationships, even though it’s an issue many people cope with. Both partners can feel frustrated by the misunderstandings that are caused 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 neglected hearing loss is 2.4 times more likely to develop dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. When the part of your brain used for hearing becomes less active, it can begin a cascade effect that can impact your entire brain. This is called brain atrophy by doctors. It’s the “use it or lose it” principle in action.
Depression rates are almost half in individuals who have normal hearing compared to those who have hearing loss. Studies have shown that as a person’s hearing loss worsens, they frequently become stressed and agitated. The person may begin to seclude themselves from friends and family. As they sink deeper into sadness, people who have hearing loss are likely to avoid participating in the activities they once enjoyed.
Relationships between family, friends, and others then become strained. Communication problems need to be handled with patients and compassion.
Somebody who is developing hearing loss might not be ready to discuss it. They may be afraid or embarrassed. Denial may have set in. You might need to do a bit of detective work to determine when it’s time to have the conversation.
Here are some outward clues you will have to rely on because you can’t hear what others are hearing:
- Failing to hear alarms, doorbells, and other important sounds
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other sounds that you don’t hear
- Watching television with the volume really high
- Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
- Avoiding busy places
- Sudden difficulty with work, hobbies, or school
- Avoiding conversations
- Repeated misunderstandings
Plan to have a heart-to-heart discussion with your loved one if you notice any of these symptoms.
How to discuss hearing loss
This talk might not be an easy one to have. A spouse in denial may brush it off or become defensive. That’s why discussing hearing loss in the right way is so important. The steps will be basically the same but perhaps with some minor alterations based on your particular relationship situation.
- Step 1: Let them know that you love them unconditionally and value your relationship.
- Step 2: The state of their health is very important to you. You’ve read through the studies. You’re aware that neglected hearing loss can lead to a higher chance of dementia and depression. You don’t want that for your loved one.
- Step 3: You’re also worried about your own safety and health. An excessively loud TV could harm your hearing. Also, your relationship can be affected, as studies have shown that excessively loud noise can cause anxiety. If you have an intruder in your house or you’ve fallen down, your partner might not hear you yelling for help. People relate to others through emotion. If you can paint an emotional picture of the what-ifs, it’s more impactful than simply listing facts.
- Step 4: Decide together to schedule an appointment to get a hearing exam. After you make the decision make an appointment as soon as possible. Don’t wait.
- Step 5: Be ready for opposition. You could find these oppositions at any time in the process. This is a person you know well. What will their objections be? Money? Time? Doesn’t see an issue? Do they believe they can use do-it-yourself remedies? (“Natural hearing loss cures” aren’t effective and can even be harmful.)
Have your responses prepared ahead of time. You might even rehearse them in the mirror. They don’t need to match those listed above word-for-word, but they should concentrate on your loved one’s concerns.
If your spouse 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 address any communication issues and make sure that both partners are heard and understood. In this way, your relationship will get stronger and your partner will take measures to live a longer, healthier life. And relationships are, after all, about growing together.