It’s something a lot of individuals suffer with, but most don’t want to talk about – hearing loss and its effect on personal relationships. Both partners can feel frustrated by the misunderstandings that are caused by hearing loss.
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner isn’t it a great time to show your love and appreciation for your loved one? Discussing hearing loss together is an ideal way to do this.
Having “the talk”
Studies have found that an individual with neglected hearing loss is 2.4 times more likely to experience dementia, and that includes Alzheimer’s disease. When the region of your brain used for hearing becomes less engaged, it can begin a cascade effect that can affect 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 healthy hearing compared to those who have hearing loss. Individuals frequently become stressed and agitated as their hearing loss progresses according to research. This can result in the person being self secluded from family and friends. They are also likely to avoid involving themselves in the activities they used to enjoy as they sink deeper into a state of sadness.
This, as a result, can result in relationship stress among mother and son, father and daughter, close friends, spouses, and other people in this person’s life. Communication problems need to be managed with patients and compassion.
Somebody who is experiencing hearing loss might not be ready to discuss it. They might feel embarrassment and fear. Denial may have set in. Deciding when to have the talk may take a bit of detective work.
Here are a few outward cues you will have to rely on because you can’t hear what others are hearing:
- Avoiding busy places
- Complaining about ringing, humming, static, or other sounds that you can’t hear
- Avoiding conversations
- Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
- Not hearing important sounds, like the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or somebody calling their name
- School, work, and hobbies are starting to become difficult
- Frequent misunderstandings
- Watching television with the volume very high
Plan to have a heart-to-heart talk with your loved one if you detect any of these symptoms.
How to discuss 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 it’s important to discuss hearing loss in a sensitive and appropriate way. You might need to modify your language based on your unique relationship, but the strategies 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: The state of their health is very important to you. You’ve read through the studies. You know that neglected hearing loss can result in a higher risk of depression and dementia. You don’t want your loved one to go through that.
- Step 3: Your own safety and health are also a concern. An overly loud television could harm your hearing. Additionally, research shows that increased noise can cause anxiety, which may impact your relationship. 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 powerful way to connect with others. 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. Do it right away after making the decision. Don’t hold off.
- Step 5: Be ready for objections. These could happen at any time in the process. This is a person you know well. What will their objections be? Will it be lack of time, or money? Perhaps they don’t see that it’s a problem. Do they believe they can utilize homemade methods? (“Natural hearing loss remedies” aren’t effective and can even be harmful.)
Have your answers prepared beforehand. You might even practice them in the mirror. They don’t have to match those listed above word-for-word, but they should concentrate on your loved one’s worries.
If your partner is unwilling to discuss their hearing loss, it can be challenging. Establishing 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 worries will be heard and understood. By having this discussion, you’ll grow closer and get your loved one the help they need to live a longer, healthier, more rewarding life. And relationships are, after all, about growing together.