The majority of individuals don’t want to discuss the effect hearing loss has on relationships, even though it’s a problem many people deal with. Both partners can feel aggravated by the misunderstandings that are created by hearing loss.
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner isn’t it a great time to express your love and appreciation for your loved one? Talking about hearing loss together is an ideal way to do this.
Having “the talk”
Studies have revealed that a person with untreated hearing loss is 2.4 times more likely to develop dementia, and that includes Alzheimer’s disease. When the region of your brain used for hearing becomes less active, it can start a cascade effect that can affect your whole brain. This is referred to as brain atrophy by doctors. You know how the old saying goes, “use it or lose it”.
Depression numbers among individuals who have hearing loss are almost twice that of an individual with healthy hearing. Studies have shown that as a person’s hearing loss progresses, they frequently become stressed and agitated. The person may start to separate themselves from friends and family. They are also likely to avoid involving themselves in the activities they used to enjoy as they sink deeper into a state of sadness.
Relationships between family, friends, and others then become strained. It’s important to be patient and work together to determine solutions to communication challenges.
Someone who is developing hearing loss may not be ready to talk about it. They might feel embarrassment and fear. Denial may have set in. Deciding when to have the talk could take a little detective work.
Here are a few outward clues you will have to rely on because you can’t hear what others are hearing:
- Not hearing important sounds, like the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or somebody calling their name
- School, work, and hobbies are starting to become difficult
- Watching television with the volume really high
- Avoiding conversations
- Complaining about ringing, humming, static, or other sounds that you don’t hear
- Avoiding busy places
- Frequent misunderstandings
- Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
Watch for these prevalent symptoms and plan to have a heart-to-heart talk with your loved one.
How to discuss hearing loss
Having this discussion may not be easy. A spouse in denial may brush it off or become defensive. That’s why it’s essential to discuss hearing loss in a sensitive and appropriate way. You might need to alter your language based on your unique relationship, but the steps will be more or less the same.
- Step 1: Tell them how much you love them unconditionally and how much you appreciate your relationship.
- Step 2: You’re concerned about their health. You’ve read through the studies. You’re aware that untreated hearing loss can result in an increased chance of depression and dementia. You don’t want that for your loved one.
- Step 3: You’re also concerned 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 cause anxiety. Your loved one might not hear you yelling for help if you have a fall or somebody’s broken into the house. People relate to others through emotion. Merely listing facts won’t be as impactful as painting an emotional picture.
- Step 4: Schedule an appointment to have your hearing tested together. Do it immediately after making the decision. Don’t delay.
- Step 5: There might be some objections so be prepared. You could encounter these oppositions at any point 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? Doesn’t notice an issue? Do they believe they can utilize homemade remedies? (“Natural hearing loss remedies” are not effective and can even be harmful.)
Be prepared with your answers. Even a little practice can’t hurt. They don’t need to match those listed above word-for-word, but they should concentrate on your loved one’s worries.
If your partner isn’t willing to talk about their hearing loss, it can be challenging. Developing a plan to tackle potential communication challenges and the effect hearing loss can have on your relationship will help both partners have confidence that their concerns will be heard and understood. In this way, your relationship will get stronger and your loved one will take measures to live a longer, healthier life. Growing together – isn’t that what love is all about?