The majority of individuals 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 cause communication hurdles that lead to misunderstandings and frustration for both partners.
This is the perfect time for you to show your love and appreciation for your loved one with Valentine’s Day right around the corner. A great way to do this is to have a discussion about your hearing loss.
Having “the talk”
Studies have revealed that a person with untreated hearing loss is 2.4 times more likely to develop dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. A cascade effect that will inevitably impact the whole brain will be initiated when the region of your brain in charge of hearing becomes less active. Doctors refer to this as brain atrophy. You know how the old saying goes, “use it or lose it”.
Depression cases are almost half in individuals who have healthy hearing compared to those who have hearing loss. Research shows that as a person’s hearing loss worsens, they frequently become anxious and agitated. This can result in the person being self isolated from friends and family. As they sink deeper into sadness, people with hearing loss are likely to stop 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 others in this person’s life. Communication issues need to be handled with patients and compassion.
Someone who is developing hearing loss might not be ready to talk about it. They might be afraid or embarrassed. Denial may have set in. You might need to do some detective work to figure out when it’s time to have the conversation.
Since you can’t hear what your partner or parent hears, you’ll have to depend on external cues, like:
- Agitation or anxiety in social settings that you haven’t previously observed
- Avoiding conversations
- Failing to hear alerts, doorbells, and other important sounds
- Frequent misunderstandings
- Sudden difficulty with work, hobbies, or school
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other noises that you can’t hear
- Avoiding busy places
- Watching television with the volume very high
Watch for these prevalent symptoms and plan to have a heart-to-heart conversation with your loved one.
How to talk about hearing loss
Having this conversation may not be easy. A partner in denial might brush it off or become defensive. That’s why discussing hearing loss in the right way is so important. You might need to alter your language based on your unique relationship, but the steps will be more or less the same.
- Step 1: Inform them how much you love them without condition and how much you appreciate your relationship.
- Step 2: You are concerned about their health. You’ve read the studies. You know that a higher risk of depression and dementia comes along with neglected hearing loss. You don’t want that for your loved one.
- Step 3: You’re also worried about your own safety and health. Your hearing may be damaged by an overly loud TV. Additionally, research shows that elevated noise can create anxiety, which may affect your relationship. If you have an intruder in your house or you’ve taken a fall, your partner may not hear you yelling for help. People relate to others through emotion. Simply listing facts won’t be as impactful as painting an emotional picture.
- Step 4: Agree together to make an appointment to get a hearing test. After you make the decision schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Don’t hold off.
- Step 5: Be prepared for opposition. You could find these oppositions at any point in the process. This is a person you know well. What will their doubts be? Money? Time? Doesn’t see an issue? They might feel that homemade remedies will be good enough. (You’re aware that “natural hearing loss cures” don’t actually work and could cause more harm than good.)
Have your responses prepared ahead of time. Even a bit of rehearsal can’t hurt. They don’t need to match those listed above word-for-word, but they should address your loved one’s worries.
Talking about hearing loss isn’t easy if your significant other doesn’t want to talk about it. Establishing a plan to deal with potential communication challenges and the effect hearing loss can have on your relationship will help both partners have confidence that their worries will be heard and understood. By doing this, your relationship will grow stronger and your partner will take measures to live a longer, healthier life. And relationships are, after all, about growing together.