The majority of individuals don’t want to talk about the effect hearing loss has on relationships, even though it’s an issue many people cope with. 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 time to show your love and appreciation for your loved one? A great way to do this is to talk to your loved one about your hearing loss.
Having “the talk”
Studies have revealed that a person with neglected hearing loss is 2.4 times more likely to develop dementia, and that includes Alzheimer’s disease. A cascade effect that will ultimately affect the whole brain will be initiated when the part of your brain in charge of hearing becomes less engaged. This is referred to as brain atrophy by doctors. You know how the old saying goes, “use it or lose it”.
Depression cases are nearly half in people who have normal hearing compared to people who have hearing loss. Individuals frequently become stressed and agitated as their hearing loss progresses according to research. The individual could begin to isolate themselves from family and friends. They are also likely to avoid getting involved in the activities they used to enjoy as they sink deeper into a state of sadness.
Relationships between family, friends, and others then become strained. Communication issues need to be managed with patients and compassion.
Your loved one might not be ready to let you know they’re developing hearing loss. They may be afraid or ashamed. They could be in denial. You might need to do a bit of detective work to determine when it’s time to have the talk.
Here are a few external cues you will need to depend on because you can’t hear what others are hearing:
- Cranking the volume way up on your TV
- Frequent misunderstandings
- Sudden difficulty with work, hobbies, or school
- Failing to hear alarms, doorbells, and other significant sounds
- Avoiding busy places
- Avoiding conversations
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other noises that you can’t hear
- Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
Look for these prevalent symptoms and plan to have a heart-to-heart chat with your loved one.
What is the best way to talk about hearing loss?
This talk may 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 it’s important to discuss hearing loss in a sensitive and appropriate way. The steps will be pretty much the same but maybe with some minor 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 important to you. You’ve read through the research. You’re aware that an increased risk of depression and dementia comes along with untreated hearing loss. You don’t want that for your loved one.
- Step 3: You’re also worried about your own health and safety. Your hearing could be harmed by an excessively loud TV. Also, your relationship can be impacted, as studies have shown that excessively loud noise can cause anxiety. Your loved one may not hear you yelling for help if you have a fall or someone’s broken into the house. People connect with others through emotion. Simply listing facts won’t have as much impact as painting an emotional picture.
- Step 4: Decide together to make an appointment to get a hearing test. After you make the decision schedule an appointment right away. 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? Will it be lack of time, or money? Doesn’t notice a problem? They may feel that homemade remedies will be good enough. (“Natural hearing loss remedies” aren’t effective and can even be harmful.)
Be ready with your responses. You may even rehearse them in the mirror. They don’t need to match those listed above word-for-word, but they should concentrate on your loved one’s concerns.
If your partner is unwilling to talk about their hearing loss, it can be difficult. 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 concerns will be heard and understood. By having this discussion, you’ll grow closer and get your loved one the help they need to live a longer, healthier, more rewarding life. Growing together – isn’t that what love is all about?