The majority of individuals don’t want to talk about the effect hearing loss has on relationships, even though it’s a problem many people cope with. 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 just around the corner. Discussing hearing loss together is an ideal way to do this.
Having “the talk”
A person experiencing neglected hearing loss has a 2.4 times more likely chance of developing cognitive disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease according to some studies. A cascade effect that will eventually impact the entire brain will be initiated when the region of your brain responsible for hearing becomes less engaged. Doctors refer to this as brain atrophy. It’s the “use it or lose it” concept in action.
Depression rates are almost half in individuals who have normal hearing compared to people who have hearing loss. Studies have shown that as a person’s hearing loss gets worse, they frequently become anxious and agitated. The person may start to isolate themselves from family and friends. As they sink deeper into depression, 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.
Your loved one might not be ready to inform you they’re developing hearing loss. They may feel embarrassment and fear. Denial might have set in. You might need to do a bit of detective work to figure out when it’s time to have the talk.
Here are some external clues you will have to depend on because you can’t hear what others are hearing:
- Avoiding conversations
- Avoiding busy places
- Complaining about ringing, humming, static, or other noises that you don’t hear
- Turning the volume way up on your TV
- Failing to hear alerts, doorbells, and other important sounds
- School, work, and hobbies are starting to become difficult
- Repeated misunderstandings
- Agitation or anxiety in social settings that you haven’t previously observed
Look for these common symptoms and plan to have a heart-to-heart talk with your loved one.
What is the best way to talk about hearing loss?
This discussion might 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 important to approach hearing loss in a sensitive and appropriate way. The steps will be essentially the same but perhaps with some slight alterations based on your specific relationship situation.
- Step 1: Let them know that you love them without condition and appreciate your relationship.
- Step 2: The state of their health is important to you. You’ve read through the research. You’re aware that an increased risk of depression and dementia comes along with neglected hearing loss. That’s not what you want for your loved one.
- Step 3: You’re also concerned about your own health and safety. An overly loud TV could damage your hearing. Additionally, research shows that increased noise can cause anxiety, which may affect your relationship. Your loved one might not hear you calling for help if you’ve fallen or somebody’s broken into the house. Emotion is a powerful way to connect with others. If you can paint an emotional picture of the what-ifs, it will have more impact than simply 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: Be prepared for objections. These could arise anywhere in the process. You know this person. What will their objections be? Money? Time? Perhaps they don’t see that it’s an issue. They may feel that homemade remedies will be good enough. (“Natural hearing loss remedies” are not effective and can even be harmful.)
Be ready with your answers. You may even rehearse them in the mirror. They don’t need to match those listed above word-for-word, but they should address your loved one’s worries.
Talking about hearing loss isn’t easy if your significant other doesn’t want to discuss it. Establishing a plan to tackle potential communication problems and the effect hearing loss can have on your relationship will help both partners have confidence that their worries will be 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 rewarding life. Growing together – isn’t that what love is all about?