It’s something a lot of individuals suffer with, but few want to talk about – hearing loss and its impact on personal relationships. Both partners can feel frustrated by the misunderstandings that are caused by hearing loss.
This is the ideal time for you to express your love and appreciation for your loved one with Valentine’s Day right around the corner. A wonderful way to do this is to have a discussion about your hearing loss.
Having “the talk”
Studies have found that a person with neglected hearing loss is 2.4 times more likely to experience dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. A cascade effect that will inevitably affect the whole brain will be initiated when the part of your brain responsible for hearing becomes less engaged. This is referred to as brain atrophy by doctors. You remember how the old saying goes, “use it or lose it”.
Depression cases are almost half in individuals who have normal hearing compared to those who have hearing loss. Research shows that as a person’s hearing loss worsens, they often become anxious and agitated. The person may begin to isolate themselves from family and friends. As they sink deeper into depression, people who have hearing loss are likely to stop taking part in the activities they once enjoyed.
Relationships between family, friends, and others then become tense. It’s important to be patient and work together to find solutions to communication problems.
Someone who is developing hearing loss may not be ready to talk about it. They might feel embarrassment and fear. Denial might have set in. You might need to do some detective work to determine when it’s time to have the talk.
Here are a few outward cues you will have to depend on because you can’t hear what other people are hearing:
- Complaining about ringing, humming, static, or other noises that you don’t hear
- Failing to hear alarms, doorbells, and other important sounds
- Watching television with the volume really high
- School, work, and hobbies are starting to become difficult
- Avoiding busy places
- Agitation or anxiety in social settings that you haven’t previously observed
- Frequent misunderstandings
- Avoiding conversations
Plan to have a heart-to-heart discussion with your loved one if you observe any of these symptoms.
What is the best way 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 discussing hearing loss in an appropriate manner is so important. You might need to modify your language based on your unique relationship, but the strategies will be basically the same.
- Step 1: Tell them how much you love them unconditionally and how much you appreciate your relationship.
- Step 2: You are concerned about their health. You’ve seen the research. You’re aware that a higher risk of depression and dementia comes along with neglected hearing loss. You don’t want your loved one to go through that.
- Step 3: Your own safety and health are also a concern. An excessively loud TV could harm your hearing. Additionally, research shows that increased noise can create anxiety, which may impact your relationship. If you have a burglar in your house or you’ve fallen down, your partner might not hear you calling for help. People connect with others through emotion. Simply listing facts won’t be as impactful as painting an emotional picture.
- Step 4: Decide together to schedule an appointment to get a hearing exam. Do it immediately after making the decision. Don’t hold off.
- Step 5: Be ready for opposition. You could find these objections at any point in the process. This is a person you know well. What kind of objections will they have? Money? Time? Maybe they don’t see that it’s a problem. Do they think they can use do-it-yourself methods? (You’re aware that “natural hearing loss cures” don’t really work and could do more harm than good.)
Have your answers prepared beforehand. 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 isn’t willing to talk about their hearing loss, it can be difficult. Openly talking about the effect of hearing loss on your relationship can help to solidify a plan to address any communication challenges 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?