It’s something a lot of people suffer with, but few want to talk about – hearing loss and its effect on personal relationships. Both partners can feel frustrated 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. A wonderful way to do this is to have a discussion about your hearing loss.
Having “the talk”
Studies have found that a person with neglected hearing loss is 2.4 times more likely to experience dementia, and that includes Alzheimer’s disease. A cascade effect that will ultimately affect the entire brain will be initiated when the part of your brain responsible for hearing becomes less engaged. 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 with healthy hearing. People often become anxious and agitated as their hearing loss worsens according to research. This can result in the person being self secluded from friends and family. As they fall deeper into sadness, people who have hearing loss are likely to stop engaging in the activities they once enjoyed.
Relationships between family, friends, and others then become tense. Communication problems need to be handled with patients and compassion.
Your loved one may not be ready to let you know they’re developing hearing loss. They may feel embarrassment and fear. Denial may have set in. You might need to do some detective work to figure out when it’s time to have the talk.
Here are a few external clues you will have to depend on because you can’t hear what other people are hearing:
- Frequent misunderstandings
- Sudden difficulty with work, hobbies, or school
- Agitation or anxiety in social settings that you haven’t previously observed
- Avoiding conversations
- Turning the volume way up on your TV
- Failing to hear alerts, doorbells, and other essential sounds
- Avoiding busy places
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other noises that you don’t hear
Watch for these prevalent symptoms and plan on having a heart-to-heart conversation with your loved one.
What is the best way to discuss hearing loss?
This talk might not be an easy one to have. A spouse in denial may brush it off or become defensive. That’s why it’s crucial to discuss hearing loss in a sensitive and appropriate way. The steps will be essentially the same but possibly with some slight modifications based on your particular relationship situation.
- Step 1: Inform them how much you love them unconditionally and how much you value your relationship.
- Step 2: The state of their health is very important to you. You’ve read the studies. You’re aware that a higher risk of depression and dementia comes along with neglected hearing loss. You don’t want your loved one to go through that.
- Step 3: You’re also worried about your own safety and health. Your hearing could be harmed by an excessively loud TV. Also, your relationship can be affected, as studies have shown that excessively loud noise can trigger anxiety. If you have an intruder in your house or you’ve taken a fall, your partner may not hear you calling for help. People connect with others through emotion. If you can paint an emotional picture of the what-ifs, it will have more impact than just listing facts.
- Step 4: Schedule an appointment to have your hearing tested together. After you make the decision schedule an appointment right away. Don’t hold off.
- Step 5: Be ready for opposition. These could arise at any time in the process. This is a person you know well. What sort of objections will they have? Will it be lack of time, or money? Possibly they don’t detect that it’s a problem. They may feel that home remedies will be good enough. (“Natural hearing loss cures” aren’t effective and can even be harmful.)
Have your answers prepared ahead of time. Even a little practice can’t hurt. These responses need to address your loved one’s Worries but they don’t need to match those listed above word-for-word
If your spouse isn’t willing to talk about their hearing loss, it can be challenging. Openly discussing the impact of hearing loss on your relationship can help to establish a plan to deal with any communication challenges and make sure that both partners are heard and understood. In this way, your relationship will grow stronger and your loved one will take measures to live a longer, healthier life. Growing together – isn’t that what love is all about?