It’s something lots of people suffer with, but most don’t want to talk about – hearing loss and its impact on personal relationships. Both partners can feel aggravated by the misunderstandings that are caused by hearing loss.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner isn’t it a great opportunity to express your love and appreciation for your loved one? A wonderful way to do this is to talk to your loved one about your hearing loss.
Having “the talk”
A person with neglected hearing loss has a 2.4 times more likely chance of developing cognitive conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease according to some studies. When the part of your brain used for hearing becomes less engaged, it can begin a cascade effect that can impact your whole brain. This is called brain atrophy by doctors. It’s the “use it or lose it” concept in action.
Depression rates are nearly half in individuals 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. The person could start to separate themselves from family and friends. As they sink deeper into sadness, people who have hearing loss are likely to avoid engaging 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.
Somebody who is experiencing hearing loss may not be ready to talk about it. They may be afraid or ashamed. They could be in denial. Deciding when to have the conversation could take a bit of detective work.
Here are some outward clues you will have to rely on because you can’t hear what other people are hearing:
- Frequent misunderstandings
- Avoiding busy places
- Failing to hear alerts, doorbells, and other significant sounds
- Cranking the volume way up on your TV
- Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
- Complaining about ringing, humming, static, or other sounds that you don’t hear
- School, work, and hobbies are starting to become difficult
- Avoiding conversations
Plan on having a heart-to-heart discussion with your loved one if you notice any of these symptoms.
How to talk about hearing loss
This talk might not be an easy one to have. A loved one may become defensive and brush it off if they’re in denial. That’s why discussing hearing loss in an appropriate manner is so important. The steps will be pretty much the same but maybe with some small modifications 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 the studies. You’re aware that a higher risk of depression and dementia comes along with untreated hearing loss. You don’t want your loved one to experience that.
- Step 3: Your own safety and health are also a concern. Your hearing could be damaged by an overly loud TV. In addition, research shows that elevated noise can trigger anxiety, which may affect your relationship. If you have a burglar 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 be as impactful as painting an emotional picture.
- Step 4: Schedule an appointment to have your hearing tested together. After you make the decision schedule an appointment right away. Don’t hold off.
- Step 5: There may be some objections so be ready. These could occur at any time in the process. You know this person. What will their doubts be? Will it be lack of time, or money? Perhaps they don’t detect that it’s a problem. They may feel that home remedies will be just fine. (“Natural hearing loss cures” are not effective and can even be harmful.)
Have your answers prepared ahead of time. Even a little rehearsal can’t hurt. These answers need to address your loved one’s Worries but they don’t have to match those listed above word-for-word
Discussing hearing loss isn’t easy if your partner doesn’t want to talk about it. Openly discussing the impact of hearing loss on your relationship can help to establish a plan to address any communication issues and ensure that both partners are heard and understood. By having this talk, you’ll grow closer and get your partner the help they need to live a longer, healthier, more fulfilling life. And relationships are, after all, about growing together.