Most individuals don’t want to talk about the impact hearing loss has on relationships, even though it’s a problem many people deal with. Hearing loss can create communication hurdles that lead to misunderstandings and aggravation for both partners.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner isn’t it the perfect opportunity to show your love and appreciation for your loved one? A great way to do this is to have a discussion about your hearing loss.
Having “the talk”
A person with untreated hearing loss has a 2.4 times more likely risk of developing cognitive conditions including 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 responsible for hearing becomes less engaged. Doctors refer to this as brain atrophy. It’s the “use it or lose it” idea in action.
Depression numbers amongst people with hearing loss are nearly double that of a person with healthy hearing. Studies have shown 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 depression, people who have hearing loss are likely to avoid engaging in the activities they once enjoyed.
Relationships between family, friends, and others then become strained. Communication problems need to be handled with patients and compassion.
Somebody who is experiencing hearing loss may not be ready to discuss it. They may be afraid or embarrassed. Denial may have set in. You might need to do some detective work to figure out when it’s time to have the conversation.
Since you can’t hear what your partner or parent hears, you’ll have to depend on outward cues, such as:
- Avoiding conversations
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other noises that you don’t hear
- Avoiding busy places
- Sudden difficulty with work, hobbies, or school
- Failing to hear alarms, doorbells, and other important sounds
- Watching television with the volume really high
- Frequent misunderstandings
- Agitation or anxiety in social settings that you haven’t previously observed
Plan to have a heart-to-heart discussion with your loved one if you notice any of these symptoms.
What is the best way to discuss hearing loss?
This discussion might not be an easy one to have. A loved one might become defensive and brush it off if they’re in denial. That’s why approaching hearing loss in the right way is so crucial. You may need to alter your language based on your unique relationship, but the steps will be more or less the same.
- Step 1: Let them know that you love them without condition and value your relationship.
- Step 2: The state of their health is important to you. You’ve seen the research. You’re aware that untreated hearing loss can result in a higher risk of dementia and depression. You don’t want that for your loved one.
- Step 3: Your own safety and health are also a concern. An overly loud TV could damage your hearing. Also, your relationship can be affected, as studies have shown that overly loud noise can trigger anxiety. If you have an intruder in your house or you’ve fallen down, your partner might not hear you yelling for help. Emotion is a powerful way to connect with others. If you can paint an emotional picture of the what-ifs, it’s more impactful than simply listing facts.
- Step 4: Schedule an appointment to have your hearing tested together. Do it right away after making the decision. Don’t wait.
- Step 5: Be prepared for opposition. These could arise at any time in the process. This is a person you know well. What will their doubts be? Will it be lack of time, or money? Perhaps they don’t detect that it’s an issue. They may feel that home remedies will be good enough. (You’re aware that “natural hearing loss cures” don’t really work and could do more harm than good.)
Have your responses prepared ahead of time. Even a bit of practice 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
Talking about hearing loss isn’t easy if your significant other isn’t willing to discuss it. Openly talking about the effect of hearing loss on your relationship can help to establish a plan to address any communication challenges and ensure that both partners are heard and understood. By having this talk, 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?