The majority of people don’t want to talk about the effect hearing loss has on relationships, even though it’s an issue many people cope with. Hearing loss can create communication obstacles that result in misunderstandings and aggravation for both partners.
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. Talking about hearing loss together is an ideal way to do this.
Having “the talk”
A person with untreated hearing loss has a 2.4 times more likely risk of experiencing cognitive conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease according to some studies. A cascade effect that will inevitably impact the whole brain will be initiated when the part of your brain in charge of hearing becomes less engaged. Doctors refer to this as brain atrophy. It’s the “use it or lose it” concept in action.
Depression rates amongst those who have hearing loss are nearly double that of an individual with healthy hearing. Individuals often become stressed and agitated as their hearing loss progresses according to research. This can lead to the person being self isolated from friends and family. They are also likely to stop getting involved in the activities they once enjoyed as they fall deeper into a state of depression.
This, in turn, can lead to relationship stress among mother and son, daughter and father, close friends, spouses, and others in this person’s life. Communication issues need to be managed with patients and compassion.
Your loved one might not be ready to inform you they are developing hearing loss. They might feel shame and fear. Denial may have set in. Deciding when to have the conversation may take a bit of detective work.
Since you can’t hear what your spouse or parent hears, you’ll have to depend on outward cues, like:
- Avoiding busy places
- Cranking the volume way up on your TV
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other sounds that you don’t hear
- Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
- Not hearing important sounds, like the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or someone calling their name
- School, work, and hobbies are starting to become difficult
- Repeated misunderstandings
- Avoiding conversations
Plan on having a heart-to-heart talk with your loved one if you observe any of these symptoms.
What is the best way to discuss hearing loss?
Having this discussion may not be easy. A partner in denial may brush it off or become defensive. That’s why discussing hearing loss in the right way is so important. You may need to modify your language based on your unique relationship, but the steps will be basically the same.
- Step 1: Tell them how much you love them without condition and how much you value your relationship.
- Step 2: You’re 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. That’s not what you want for your loved one.
- Step 3: You’re also concerned about your own safety and health. Your hearing may be damaged by an overly loud TV. Additionally, research shows that increased noise can trigger anxiety, which may affect your relationship. Your loved one might not hear you calling for help if you have a fall or somebody’s broken into the house. Emotion is a strong way to connect with others. Simply listing facts won’t be as impactful as painting an emotional picture.
- Step 4: Schedule an appointment to get a hearing test together. Do it right away after making the decision. Don’t delay.
- Step 5: Be prepared for opposition. These could arise anywhere in the process. You know this person. What will their objections be? Will it be lack of time, or money? Doesn’t notice a problem? Do they think they can use do-it-yourself methods? (You know “natural hearing loss cures” don’t actually work and could do more harm than good.)
Have your responses prepared ahead of time. Even a bit of rehearsal can’t hurt. These answers need to address your loved one’s concerns but they don’t have to match those listed above word-for-word
If your partner is unwilling to talk about their hearing loss, it can be difficult. Openly discussing the impact 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 doing this, your relationship will grow stronger and your loved one will take measures to live a longer, healthier life. Growing together – isn’t that what love is all about?
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