It’s something lots of individuals cope with, but most don’t want to talk about – hearing loss and its impact on personal relationships. Hearing loss can create communication barriers that lead to misunderstandings and frustration for both partners.
This is the ideal time for you to show your love and appreciation for your loved one with Valentine’s Day right around the corner. Talking about hearing loss together is a great way to do this.
Having “the talk”
Studies have found that an individual 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 engaged, it can start a cascade effect that can impact your whole brain. This is referred to as brain atrophy by doctors. You know how the old saying goes, “use it or lose it”.
Depression rates are almost half in people who have normal hearing compared to people who have hearing loss. Individuals often become anxious and agitated as their hearing loss progresses according to research. This can result in the person being self secluded from friends and family. As they fall deeper into sadness, people with hearing loss are likely to avoid taking part in the activities they once enjoyed.
Relationships between family, friends, and others then become tense. It’s essential to be patient and work together to determine solutions to communication problems.
Someone who is experiencing hearing loss may not be ready to talk about it. They might be afraid or embarrassed. Denial might 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 a few external cues you will need to depend on because you can’t hear what other people are hearing:
- Frequent misunderstandings
- Avoiding busy places
- Avoiding conversations
- Complaining about ringing, humming, static, or other sounds that you don’t hear
- Turning the volume way up on your TV
- Agitation or anxiety in social settings that you haven’t previously observed
- Not hearing vital sounds, like the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or someone calling their name
- School, work, and hobbies are starting to become difficult
Plan to have a heart-to-heart discussion with your loved one if you detect any of these symptoms.
How to talk about hearing loss
This discussion may not be an easy one to have. A loved one might become defensive and brush it off if they’re in denial. That’s why it’s crucial to approach hearing loss in a sensitive and appropriate way. You might need to modify your language based on your unique relationship, but the steps will be basically the same.
- Step 1: Inform them how much you love them without condition and how much you appreciate your relationship.
- Step 2: The state of their health is important to you. You’ve read through the studies. You know that a higher risk of depression and dementia comes along with neglected hearing loss. You don’t want your loved one to deal with that.
- Step 3: Your own safety and health are also a worry. An overly loud TV could harm your hearing. Also, your relationship can be impacted, as studies have shown that excessively loud noise can trigger anxiety. If you have a burglar in your house or you’ve fallen down, your partner may not hear you yelling for help. People connect with others through emotion. If you can paint an emotional picture of the what-ifs, it’s more impactful than just listing facts.
- Step 4: Schedule an appointment to get a hearing test together. Do it right away after making the decision. Don’t delay.
- Step 5: There may be some objections so be prepared. These could occur at any time in the process. You know this person. What kind of doubts will they have? Money? Time? Doesn’t notice a problem? Do they think they can utilize homemade methods? (“Natural hearing loss cures” aren’t effective and can even be harmful.)
Be prepared with your responses. You may even rehearse them in the mirror. They don’t have to match those listed above word-for-word, but they should address your loved one’s worries.
If your partner isn’t willing to discuss their hearing loss, it can be difficult. Openly discussing the effect 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. By having this discussion, you’ll grow closer and get your partner the help they need to live a longer, healthier, more rewarding life. Growing together – isn’t that what love is all about?