Most individuals don’t want to discuss the impact hearing loss has on relationships, even though it’s an issue many people deal with. Hearing loss can cause communication hurdles that result in misunderstandings and aggravation for both partners.
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner isn’t it a great time to express your love and appreciation for your loved one? Discussing hearing loss together is an ideal way to do this.
Having “the talk”
A person experiencing untreated hearing loss has a 2.4 times more likely risk of experiencing cognitive disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease according to some studies. A cascade effect that will inevitably impact the entire brain will be initiated when the region of your brain responsible for hearing becomes less active. Doctors refer to this as brain atrophy. It’s the “use it or lose it” concept in action.
Depression numbers amongst individuals who have hearing loss are almost double that of a person with healthy hearing. Studies have shown that as a person’s hearing loss progresses, they frequently become anxious and agitated. This can result in the person being self secluded from friends and family. 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 strained. Communication issues need to be handled with patients and compassion.
Somebody who is developing hearing loss might not be ready to discuss it. They may be afraid or ashamed. They may be in denial. You may need to do some detective work to determine when it’s time to have the talk.
Because you can’t hear what your spouse or parent hears, you’ll have to depend on external clues, like:
- Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
- Cranking the volume way up on your TV
- Avoiding conversations
- Failing to hear alerts, doorbells, and other essential sounds
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other noises that you don’t hear
- Avoiding busy places
- School, work, and hobbies are starting to become difficult
- Repeated misunderstandings
Look for these prevalent symptoms and plan on having a heart-to-heart chat with your loved one.
How to discuss hearing loss
Having this conversation may not be easy. A spouse in denial may brush it off or become defensive. That’s why approaching hearing loss in the right way is so relevant. The steps will be basically the same but maybe with some minor alterations based on your particular relationship situation.
- Step 1: Let them know that you love them without condition and appreciate your relationship.
- Step 2: You are worried about their health. You’ve seen the research. You know that an increased risk of depression and dementia comes along with untreated hearing loss. You don’t want your loved one to go through that.
- Step 3: Your own safety and health are also a worry. Your hearing may be harmed by an overly loud TV. Additionally, studies show that increased noise can trigger anxiety, which might affect your relationship. Your loved one may not hear you yelling for help if you’ve fallen or someone’s broken into the house. People connect with others through emotion. Merely listing facts won’t be as impactful as painting an emotional picture.
- Step 4: Agree together to schedule an appointment to get a hearing assessment. Do it right away after making the decision. Don’t wait.
- Step 5: Be prepared for opposition. You could find these objections at any point in the process. This is a person you know well. What will their objections be? Will it be lack of time, or money? Doesn’t notice an issue? Do they believe they can utilize do-it-yourself remedies? (You’re aware that “natural hearing loss cures” don’t really work and could do more harm than good.)
Be prepared with your answers. You might even practice them in the mirror. They don’t need to match those listed above word-for-word, but they should address your loved one’s concerns.
If your spouse is unwilling to talk about their hearing loss, it can be challenging. Developing a plan to tackle potential communication problems and the impact hearing loss can have on your relationship will help both partners have confidence that their concerns will be heard and understood. By having this talk, you’ll grow closer and get your loved one the help they need to live a longer, healthier, more fulfilling life. And relationships are, after all, about growing together.