The majority of people don’t want to talk about the effect hearing loss has on relationships, even though it’s a problem many people deal with. Hearing loss can cause communication hurdles that lead to misunderstandings and frustration for both partners.
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner isn’t it a great time to express your love and appreciation for your loved one? Discussing hearing loss together is an ideal way to do this.
Having “the talk”
A person experiencing untreated hearing loss has a 2.4 times more likely risk of developing cognitive disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease according to some studies. A cascade effect that will ultimately impact the entire brain will be caused when the region of your brain responsible for hearing becomes less active. Doctors call this brain atrophy. It’s the “use it or lose it” principle in action.
Depression rates among those with hearing loss are nearly twice that of an individual who has healthy hearing. Individuals often become anxious and agitated as their hearing loss progresses according to research. The person may begin to seclude themselves from friends and family. They are also likely to avoid involving themselves in the activities they once enjoyed as they sink deeper into a state of sadness.
This, in turn, can result in relationship strain among mother and son, father and daughter, close friends, spouses, and other people in this person’s life. Communication problems need to be managed with patients and compassion.
Your loved one may not be ready to tell you they are developing hearing loss. They may feel shame and fear. Denial might have set in. Deciding when to have the talk could take a little detective work.
Here are some external clues you will need to depend on because you can’t hear what other people are hearing:
- 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 don’t hear
- Watching TV with the volume really high
- Agitation or anxiety in social settings that you haven’t previously observed
- School, work, and hobbies are starting to become difficult
- Avoiding conversations
- Repeated misunderstandings
- Avoiding busy places
Look for these common symptoms and plan to have a heart-to-heart talk with your loved one.
What is the best way to talk about hearing loss?
This talk might not be an easy one to have. A partner in denial may brush it off or become defensive. That’s why approaching hearing loss in the right way is so relevant. You may need to alter your language based on your unique relationship, but the strategies will be more or less the same.
- Step 1: Tell them how much you love them without condition and how much you value your relationship.
- Step 2: You are worried about their health. You’ve seen the research. You’re aware that an increased risk of depression and dementia comes along with neglected hearing loss. That’s not what you want for your loved one.
- Step 3: You’re also worried about your own health and safety. Your hearing could be damaged by an overly loud TV. Also, your relationship can be affected, as studies have shown that excessively loud noise can cause anxiety. If you have an intruder in your house or you’ve fallen down, your partner might not hear you calling for help. Emotion is a strong way to connect with others. Merely listing facts won’t have as much impact as painting an emotional picture.
- Step 4: Schedule an appointment to have your hearing tested together. After you make the decision schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Don’t hold off.
- Step 5: Be ready for opposition. These could arise 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? Maybe they don’t detect that it’s an issue. Do they think they can utilize do-it-yourself methods? (You recognize “natural hearing loss cures” don’t really work and could do more harm than good.)
Be prepared with your answers. Even a bit of rehearsal can’t hurt. They don’t have to match those listed above word-for-word, but they should concentrate on your loved one’s worries.
Discussing hearing loss isn’t easy if your partner doesn’t want to discuss it. Openly talking about the effect of hearing loss on your relationship can help to solidify a plan to deal with any communication challenges and make sure that both partners are 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 fulfilling life. Growing together – isn’t that what love is all about?