Most people don’t want to talk about the impact hearing loss has on relationships, even though it’s a problem many people cope with. Hearing loss can cause communication barriers that result in misunderstandings and aggravation for both partners.
With Valentine’s Day just 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 have a discussion about your hearing loss.
Having “the talk”
Studies have found that an individual with untreated hearing loss is 2.4 times more likely to develop dementia, and that includes Alzheimer’s disease. When the part of your brain used for hearing becomes less active, it can start a cascade effect that can impact your entire brain. This is referred to as brain atrophy by doctors. It’s the “use it or lose it” principle in action.
Depression rates among those with hearing loss are almost twice that of a person who has healthy hearing. People often become anxious 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 sadness, people who have hearing loss are likely to stop participating in the activities they once enjoyed.
Relationships between family, friends, and others then become tense. Communication issues need to be handled with patients and compassion.
Somebody who is experiencing hearing loss might not be ready to discuss it. They may be afraid or ashamed. 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 outward cues you will have to rely on because you can’t hear what other people are hearing:
- School, work, and hobbies are starting to become difficult
- Failing to hear alarms, doorbells, and other significant sounds
- Avoiding conversations
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other noises that you don’t hear
- Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
- Frequent misunderstandings
- Avoiding busy places
- Cranking the volume way up on your TV
Watch for these common symptoms and plan to have a heart-to-heart chat with your loved one.
What is the best way to discuss hearing loss?
This discussion may not be an easy one to have. A partner in denial may brush it off or become defensive. That’s why approaching hearing loss in an appropriate manner is so crucial. You might need to alter your language based on your unique relationship, but the steps will be more or less the same.
- Step 1: Inform them how much you love them without condition and how much you appreciate your relationship.
- Step 2: You’re concerned about their health. You’ve read the studies. You know that neglected hearing loss can result in a higher risk of depression and dementia. You don’t want that for your loved one.
- Step 3: You’re also concerned about your own health and safety. An excessively loud TV could damage your hearing. Also, your relationship can be impacted, as studies have shown that excessively loud noise can trigger anxiety. If you have an intruder in your house or you’ve taken a fall, your partner may not hear you yelling for help. Emotion is a strong way to connect with others. 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. After you make the decision make an appointment right away. Don’t wait.
- Step 5: Be prepared for objections. You could find these oppositions at any point in the process. This is a person you know well. What sort of doubts will they have? Money? Time? Doesn’t see a problem? They might feel that homemade remedies will be good enough. (You recognize “natural hearing loss cures” don’t really work and could cause more harm than good.)
Be ready with your answers. Even a little rehearsal can’t hurt. They don’t need to match those listed above word-for-word, but they should concentrate on your loved one’s worries.
If your spouse is unwilling to discuss their hearing loss, it can be difficult. Developing a plan to deal with potential communication problems and the impact hearing loss can have on your relationship will help both partners have confidence that their concerns will be heard and understood. By having this talk, 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?