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 create communication barriers that result in misunderstandings and aggravation for both partners.
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 great way to do this is to have a discussion about your hearing loss.
Having “the talk”
A person with neglected hearing loss has a 2.4 times more likely risk of experiencing cognitive conditions including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease according to some studies. A cascade effect that will eventually impact the whole brain will be initiated when the region of your brain in charge of hearing becomes less active. This is called brain atrophy by doctors. It’s the “use it or lose it” concept in action.
Depression rates among those with hearing loss are almost twice that of a person who has healthy hearing. People frequently become anxious and agitated as their hearing loss progresses according to research. This can result in the person being self secluded from family and friends. As they sink deeper into sadness, people who have hearing loss are likely to avoid engaging in the activities they once enjoyed.
This, as a result, can result in relationship strain among mother and son, daughter and father, close friends, spouses, and other people in this person’s life. Communication issues need to be handled with patients and compassion.
Somebody who is developing hearing loss may not be ready to discuss it. They may feel shame and fear. Denial might have set in. You might need to do some detective work to figure out when it’s time to have the talk.
Because you can’t hear what your partner or parent hears, you’ll need to rely on external cues, such as:
- Avoiding conversations
- Frequent misunderstandings
- Turning the volume way up on your TV
- Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
- Failing to hear alerts, doorbells, and other important sounds
- School, work, and hobbies are starting to become difficult
- Avoiding busy places
- Complaining about ringing, humming, static, or other sounds that you can’t hear
Plan to have 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?
Having this conversation may not be easy. A loved one could become defensive and brush it off if they’re in denial. That’s why it’s important to discuss hearing loss in a sensitive and appropriate way. The steps will be basically the same but perhaps with some small modifications based on your specific relationship situation.
- Step 1: Tell them that you love them without condition and value your relationship.
- Step 2: You’re worried about their health. You’ve read through the studies. You’re aware that untreated hearing loss can lead to a higher risk of depression and dementia. You don’t want your loved one to deal with that.
- Step 3: You’re also concerned about your own health and safety. An overly loud television could harm your hearing. Additionally, research shows that increased noise can create anxiety, which may affect your relationship. Your loved one may not hear you yelling for help if you have a fall or somebody’s broken into the house. Emotion is a strong way to connect with others. If you can paint an emotional picture of the what-ifs, it will have more impact than just listing facts.
- Step 4: Decide together to make an appointment to get a hearing assessment. Do it immediately after making the decision. Don’t hold off.
- Step 5: Be prepared for opposition. You could encounter these objections at any point in the process. You know this person. What sort of objections will they have? Will it be lack of time, or money? Possibly they don’t see that it’s an issue. They may feel that home remedies will be good enough. (“Natural hearing loss cures” aren’t effective and can even be harmful.)
Be prepared with your responses. Even a little 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 isn’t willing to discuss their hearing loss, it can be challenging. Openly discussing the impact of hearing loss on your relationship can help to solidify a plan to deal with any communication issues and make sure that both partners are heard and understood. By having this discussion, you’ll grow closer and get your partner the help they need to live a longer, healthier, more rewarding life. Growing together – isn’t that what love is all about?