The majority of people don’t want to talk about the impact hearing loss has on relationships, even though it’s a problem many people deal with. Hearing loss can cause communication barriers that result in 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. Talking about hearing loss together is a great way to do this.
Having “the talk”
A person experiencing untreated hearing loss has a 2.4 times more likely risk of developing cognitive disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease according to some studies. When the region of your brain responsible for hearing becomes less engaged, it can begin a cascade effect that can affect your entire brain. This is called brain atrophy by doctors. It’s the “use it or lose it” concept in action.
Depression rates among those who have hearing loss are nearly twice that of a person with healthy hearing. Research shows that as a person’s hearing loss gets worse, they often become anxious and agitated. The person may begin to seclude themselves from family and friends. As they fall deeper into sadness, people who have hearing loss are likely to avoid participating in the activities they once enjoyed.
This, in turn, can result in relationship stress among mother and son, father and daughter, close friends, spouses, and others in this person’s life. It’s important to be patient and work together to find solutions to communication problems.
Your loved one might not be ready to tell you they’re experiencing hearing loss. They may be afraid or ashamed. They could be in denial. You may need to do some detective work to figure out when it’s time to have the conversation.
Here are some external cues you will need to rely on because you can’t hear what others are hearing:
- Watching television with the volume really high
- Not hearing vital sounds, such as the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or somebody calling their name
- Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
- Avoiding busy places
- Avoiding conversations
- Sudden difficulty with work, hobbies, or school
- Frequent misunderstandings
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other noises that you can’t hear
Look for these common symptoms and plan to have a heart-to-heart conversation with your loved one.
How 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 approaching hearing loss in an appropriate manner is so relevant. You might need to alter 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 unconditionally and how much you value your relationship.
- Step 2: You are worried about their health. You’ve seen the research. You know that untreated hearing loss can result in a higher risk of dementia and depression. You don’t want your loved one to go through that.
- Step 3: You’re also worried about your own health and safety. Your hearing may be damaged by an excessively loud TV. In addition, studies show that elevated 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. If you can paint an emotional picture of the what-ifs, it will have more impact than simply listing facts.
- Step 4: Make an appointment to get a hearing test together. After you make the decision schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Don’t wait.
- Step 5: Be ready for opposition. You could find these oppositions 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 a problem? They might feel that home remedies will be good enough. (You know “natural hearing loss cures” don’t really work and could cause more harm than good.)
Have your answers prepared beforehand. Even a little practice can’t hurt. These responses need to address your loved one’s concerns but they don’t need to match those listed above word-for-word
If your spouse isn’t willing 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 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?
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