Most individuals don’t want to talk about the impact hearing loss has on relationships, even though it’s an issue many people deal with. Hearing loss can create communication obstacles that lead to misunderstandings and aggravation for both partners.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner isn’t it a great 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 chance of developing cognitive conditions including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease according to some studies. When the part of your brain used for hearing becomes less engaged, it can begin a cascade effect that can affect your whole brain. Doctors call this brain atrophy. You remember how the old saying goes, “use it or lose it”.
Depression numbers amongst those with hearing loss are nearly double that of a person who has healthy hearing. People frequently become stressed and agitated as their hearing loss worsens according to research. This can lead to the person being self secluded from family and friends. As they fall deeper into sadness, people with hearing loss are likely to stop participating in the activities they once enjoyed.
Relationships between family, friends, and others then become tense. It’s essential to be patient and work together to determine solutions to communication problems.
Somebody who is experiencing hearing loss may not be ready to talk about it. They may feel embarrassment and fear. Denial may have set in. Deciding when to have the talk may take a little detective work.
Here are some outward clues you will need to rely on because you can’t hear what others are hearing:
- School, work, and hobbies are starting to become difficult
- Watching television with the volume very high
- Avoiding conversations
- Repeated misunderstandings
- Failing to hear alarms, doorbells, and other important sounds
- Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
- Avoiding busy places
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other noises that you don’t hear
Look for these common symptoms and plan to have a heart-to-heart chat with your loved one.
How to discuss hearing loss
Having this conversation might not be easy. A partner in denial may brush it off or become defensive. That’s why discussing hearing loss in the right way is so relevant. The steps will be basically the same but maybe with some slight alterations based on your specific relationship situation.
- Step 1: Inform them how much you love them unconditionally and how much you appreciate your relationship.
- Step 2: The state of their health is very important to you. You’ve seen the research. You know that untreated hearing loss can lead to an increased chance of depression and dementia. You don’t want your loved one to go through that.
- Step 3: Your own safety and health are also a concern. Your hearing could be harmed by an overly loud TV. Also, your relationship can be impacted, as studies have revealed that excessively loud noise can trigger anxiety. If you have a burglar in your house or you’ve fallen down, your partner may not hear you calling for help. Emotion is a powerful 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: Agree together to schedule an appointment to get a hearing exam. Do it right away after making the decision. Don’t wait.
- Step 5: Be prepared for opposition. These could arise anywhere in the process. This is a person you know well. What sort of doubts will they have? Money? Time? Maybe they don’t see that it’s a problem. Do they think they can utilize homemade methods? (You’re aware that “natural hearing loss cures” don’t really work and could cause more harm than good.)
Have your answers prepared beforehand. Even a little rehearsal can’t hurt. These responses 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 talk about their hearing loss, it can be difficult. Developing a plan to tackle potential communication challenges and the impact 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. And relationships are, after all, about growing together.