Most people don’t want to talk about the effect hearing loss has on relationships, even though it’s a problem many people cope with. Both partners can feel frustrated by the misunderstandings that are created by hearing loss.
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner isn’t it the perfect opportunity to express 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 risk of experiencing cognitive conditions including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease according to some studies. When the part of your brain used for hearing becomes less active, it can begin a cascade effect that can impact your whole brain. Doctors refer to this as brain atrophy. It’s the “use it or lose it” principle in action.
Depression rates among individuals with hearing loss are almost double that of an individual with healthy hearing. Individuals frequently become anxious and agitated as their hearing loss progresses according to research. This can result in the person being self isolated from family and friends. As they sink deeper into depression, people with hearing loss are likely to stop taking part in the activities they once enjoyed.
Relationships between family, friends, and others then become strained. Communication issues need to be handled with patients and compassion.
Somebody who is developing hearing loss might not be ready to talk about it. They may feel embarrassment and fear. They could be in denial. Deciding when to have the conversation could take a bit of detective work.
Here are some external cues you will need to depend on because you can’t hear what other people are hearing:
- Frequent misunderstandings
- Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
- Complaining about ringing, humming, static, or other sounds that you can’t hear
- Avoiding busy places
- Turning the volume way up on your TV
- School, work, and hobbies are starting to become difficult
- Avoiding conversations
- Not hearing vital sounds, such as the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or someone calling their name
Watch for these prevalent symptoms and plan on having a heart-to-heart conversation with your loved one.
How to discuss hearing loss
This talk might not be an easy one to have. A partner in denial might brush it off or become defensive. That’s why discussing hearing loss in an appropriate manner is so crucial. The steps will be pretty much the same but maybe with some minor alterations based on your specific relationship situation.
- Step 1: Let them know that you love them unconditionally and appreciate your relationship.
- Step 2: The state of their health is very important to you. You’ve read the studies. You’re aware that untreated hearing loss can lead to an increased risk of depression and dementia. You don’t want your loved one to experience that.
- Step 3: Your own safety and health are also a concern. An excessively loud TV could harm your hearing. Also, your relationship can be affected, as studies have revealed that excessively loud noise can trigger 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 powerful way to connect with others. 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: Be ready for objections. These could happen anywhere in the process. This is a person you know well. What will their doubts be? Money? Time? Maybe they don’t see that it’s an issue. Do they believe they can use do-it-yourself remedies? (You’re aware that “natural hearing loss cures” don’t really work and could do more harm than good.)
Be prepared with your answers. You might even practice them in the mirror. They don’t have to match those listed above word-for-word, but they should address your loved one’s concerns.
If your spouse is unwilling to discuss their hearing loss, it can be challenging. Establishing a plan to deal with potential communication problems and the effect hearing loss can have on your relationship will help both partners have confidence that their concerns will be 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 fulfilling life. Growing together – isn’t that what love is all about?