It’s something a lot of people cope with, but most don’t want to talk about – hearing loss and its effect on personal relationships. Both partners can feel aggravated by the misunderstandings that are created by hearing loss.
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner isn’t it the perfect time to show your love and appreciation for your loved one? A wonderful way to do this is to talk to your loved one about your hearing loss.
Having “the talk”
A person with neglected hearing loss has a 2.4 times more likely chance of experiencing cognitive disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease according to some studies. When the part of your brain used for hearing becomes less engaged, it can begin a cascade effect that can affect your whole brain. Doctors call this brain atrophy. It’s the “use it or lose it” idea in action.
Depression rates are nearly half in individuals who have normal hearing compared to people who have hearing loss. Research shows that as a person’s hearing loss progresses, they often become stressed and agitated. The person could begin to separate themselves from friends and family. As they fall deeper into sadness, people who have hearing loss are likely to stop taking part in the activities they once enjoyed.
This, in turn, can result in relationship stress among mother and son, daughter and father, close friends, spouses, and others in this person’s life. It’s essential to be patient and work together to find solutions to communication problems.
Somebody who is experiencing hearing loss might not be ready to talk about it. They might feel embarrassment and fear. Denial might have set in. You may need to do a bit of detective work to figure out when it’s time to have the conversation.
Because you can’t hear what your partner or parent hears, you’ll have to depend on external clues, like:
- Frequent misunderstandings
- Watching TV with the volume really high
- Not hearing significant sounds, such as the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or someone calling their name
- School, work, and hobbies are starting to become difficult
- Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other sounds that you don’t hear
- Avoiding conversations
- Avoiding busy places
Plan on having a heart-to-heart discussion with your loved one if you detect any of these symptoms.
What is the best way to discuss hearing loss?
This discussion may not be an easy one to have. A partner in denial might brush it off or become defensive. That’s why it’s crucial to discuss hearing loss in a sensitive and appropriate way. You may need to modify your language based on your unique relationship, but the strategies will be more or less the same.
- Step 1: Let them know that you love them unconditionally and appreciate your relationship.
- Step 2: The state of their health is important to you. You’ve read through the studies. You know that an increased risk of depression and dementia comes along with neglected hearing loss. You don’t want your loved one to deal with that.
- Step 3: Your own safety and health are also a concern. Your hearing may be damaged by an overly loud TV. Additionally, studies show that elevated noise can trigger anxiety, which may impact your relationship. Your loved one may not hear you calling for help if you have a fall or someone’s broken into the house. People relate to others through emotion. Simply listing facts won’t have as much impact as painting an emotional picture.
- Step 4: Make an appointment to get a hearing test together. Do it right away after making the decision. Don’t wait.
- Step 5: There might be some objections so be prepared. These could occur at any time in the process. You know this person. What will their doubts be? Will it be lack of time, or money? Perhaps they don’t detect that it’s an issue. They might feel that home remedies will be good enough. (“Natural hearing loss cures” are not effective and can even be harmful.)
Be ready with your answers. Even a little rehearsal can’t hurt. These responses need to address your loved one’s Worries but they don’t need to match those listed above word-for-word
Discussing hearing loss isn’t easy if your significant other doesn’t want to talk about it. Developing a plan to deal with potential communication challenges and the impact hearing loss can have on your relationship will help both partners have confidence that their worries will be heard and understood. In this way, your relationship will get stronger and your partner will take measures to live a longer, healthier life. Growing together – isn’t that what love is all about?