It’s something a lot of individuals suffer with, but most don’t want to talk about – hearing loss and its effect on personal relationships. Both partners can feel frustrated by the misunderstandings that are created by hearing loss.
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 with untreated hearing loss has a 2.4 times more likely chance of experiencing cognitive disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease according to some studies. A cascade effect that will inevitably impact the whole brain will be caused when the region of your brain in charge of hearing becomes less active. Doctors refer to this as brain atrophy. You know how the old saying goes, “use it or lose it”.
Depression cases are almost half in people who have normal hearing compared to people who have hearing loss. Studies have shown that as a person’s hearing loss worsens, they frequently become stressed and agitated. This can lead to the person being self isolated from family and friends. As they sink deeper into depression, people with hearing loss are likely to avoid engaging in the activities they once enjoyed.
This, as a result, can lead to relationship strain among mother and son, father and daughter, close friends, spouses, and other people in this person’s life. It’s important to be patient and work together to find solutions to communication problems.
Your loved one may not be ready to let you know they are experiencing hearing loss. They may feel embarrassment and fear. Denial might have set in. You may need to do some detective work to determine when it’s time to have the conversation.
Since you can’t hear what your spouse or parent hears, you’ll need to rely on external clues, like:
- Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
- Avoiding busy places
- Avoiding conversations
- Sudden difficulty with work, hobbies, or school
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other noises that you can’t hear
- Repeated misunderstandings
- Failing to hear alerts, doorbells, and other essential sounds
- Watching TV with the volume very high
Watch for these prevalent symptoms and plan to have a heart-to-heart conversation with your loved one.
What is the best way to talk about hearing loss?
This discussion may not be an easy one to have. A partner in denial may brush it off or become defensive. That’s why it’s crucial to discuss hearing loss in a sensitive and appropriate way. The steps will be pretty much the same but possibly with some small modifications based on your specific relationship situation.
- Step 1: Let them know that you love them unconditionally and value your relationship.
- Step 2: The state of their health is very important to you. You’ve read through the studies. You’re aware that a higher risk of depression and dementia comes along with untreated hearing loss. 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 could be damaged by an excessively loud TV. In addition, research shows that increased noise can trigger anxiety, which might 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 relate to others through emotion. If you can paint an emotional picture of the what-ifs, it will have more impact than merely listing facts.
- Step 4: Agree together to schedule an appointment to get a hearing assessment. Do it right away after making the decision. Don’t delay.
- Step 5: There might be some opposition so be prepared. You could encounter these oppositions at any time in the process. You know this person. What sort of doubts will they have? Will it be lack of time, or money? Perhaps they don’t see that it’s a problem. Do they believe they can use do-it-yourself methods? (“Natural hearing loss remedies” aren’t effective and can even be harmful.)
Have your responses prepared ahead of time. Even a bit of rehearsal can’t hurt. They don’t have to match those listed above word-for-word, but they should address your loved one’s concerns.
Discussing hearing loss isn’t easy if your partner isn’t willing to discuss it. Openly talking about the effect of hearing loss on your relationship can help to establish a plan to deal with any communication issues and ensure that both partners are 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 fulfilling life. And relationships are, after all, about growing together.