It’s something lots of people suffer with, but most don’t want to talk about – hearing loss and its impact on personal relationships. Both partners can feel aggravated by the misunderstandings that are created by hearing loss.
This is the perfect 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”
Studies have found that an individual with neglected hearing loss is 2.4 times more likely to experience dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. A cascade effect that will inevitably impact the entire brain will be caused when the region of your brain responsible for hearing becomes less engaged. This is called brain atrophy by doctors. You remember how the old saying goes, “use it or lose it”.
Depression rates are almost half in people who have healthy hearing compared to people who have hearing loss. Research shows that as a person’s hearing loss progresses, they often become anxious and agitated. This can lead to the person being self secluded from family and friends. As they sink deeper into sadness, people with hearing loss are likely to avoid participating in the activities they once enjoyed.
This, as a result, can lead to relationship stress 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 determine solutions to communication difficulties.
Somebody who is experiencing hearing loss might not be ready to discuss it. They may be afraid or ashamed. Denial might have set in. You might need to do a bit of detective work to figure out when it’s time to have the conversation.
Here are a few outward clues you will need to depend on because you can’t hear what others are hearing:
- School, work, and hobbies are starting to become difficult
- Agitation or anxiety in social settings that you haven’t previously observed
- Not hearing important sounds, such as the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or someone calling their name
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other noises that you can’t hear
- Watching TV with the volume really high
- Avoiding conversations
- Avoiding busy places
- Frequent misunderstandings
Watch for these prevalent symptoms and plan on having a heart-to-heart talk with your loved one.
What is the best way to discuss hearing loss?
This discussion might 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 essential to approach hearing loss in a sensitive and appropriate way. The steps will be essentially the same but possibly with some slight alterations based on your specific relationship situation.
- Step 1: Tell them how much you love them without condition and how much you appreciate your relationship.
- Step 2: You’re worried about their health. You’ve read through the research. You’re aware that untreated hearing loss can result in an increased chance of dementia and depression. You don’t want your loved one to go through that.
- Step 3: Your own safety and health are also a worry. Your hearing could be harmed by an excessively loud TV. Also, your relationship can be impacted, as studies have revealed that overly loud noise can trigger anxiety. If you have an intruder in your house or you’ve fallen down, your partner may not hear you calling for help. Emotion is a strong way to connect with others. Simply listing facts won’t have as much impact as painting an emotional picture.
- Step 4: Decide together to schedule an appointment to get a hearing exam. Do it immediately after making the decision. Don’t delay.
- Step 5: There might be some opposition so be ready. These could arise anywhere in the process. You know this person. What will their doubts be? Will it be lack of time, or money? Possibly they don’t see that it’s a problem. They might feel that home remedies will be just fine. (You’re aware that “natural hearing loss cures” don’t actually work and could do more harm than good.)
Have your responses prepared beforehand. You might even practice them in the mirror. 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 isn’t willing to talk about their hearing loss, it can be difficult. Openly discussing the effect of hearing loss on your relationship can help to establish a plan to deal with any communication challenges and ensure that both partners are heard and understood. By doing this, your relationship will grow stronger and your partner will take steps to live a longer, healthier life. And relationships are, after all, about growing together.
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