It’s something lots of people suffer with, but few want to talk about – hearing loss and its effect on personal relationships. Hearing loss can create communication barriers that result in misunderstandings and aggravation for both partners.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner isn’t it the perfect opportunity to show your love and appreciation for your loved one? A great 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 developing cognitive disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease according to some studies. A cascade effect that will eventually impact the entire brain will be caused when the region of your brain in charge of hearing becomes less active. This is referred to as brain atrophy by doctors. It’s the “use it or lose it” idea in action.
Depression numbers amongst people who have hearing loss are almost double that of a person who has healthy hearing. Research shows that as a person’s hearing loss gets worse, they frequently become stressed and agitated. The person may start to isolate themselves from friends and family. As they sink deeper into sadness, people with hearing loss are likely to avoid engaging in the activities they once enjoyed.
Relationships between family, friends, and others then become strained. It’s important 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 might feel shame and fear. They could be in denial. Deciding when to have the talk may take a bit of detective work.
Since you can’t hear what your partner or parent hears, you’ll have to rely on outward clues, like:
- Turning the volume way up on your TV
- School, work, and hobbies are starting to become difficult
- Complaining about ringing, humming, static, or other sounds that you can’t hear
- Avoiding busy places
- Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
- Frequent misunderstandings
- Avoiding conversations
- Not hearing significant sounds, such as the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or someone calling their name
Look for these common symptoms and plan on having a heart-to-heart talk with your loved one.
How to discuss hearing loss
Having this conversation may not be easy. A spouse in denial may brush it off or become defensive. That’s why approaching hearing loss in an appropriate manner is so crucial. You might need to alter your language based on your unique relationship, but the steps will be basically the same.
- Step 1: Tell 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 neglected hearing loss can result in a higher risk of dementia and depression. You don’t want your loved one to go through that.
- Step 3: Your own safety and health are also a concern. An overly loud television could harm your hearing. Additionally, studies show that elevated noise can cause anxiety, which might affect your relationship. If you have a burglar in your house or you’ve fallen down, your partner might not hear you calling for help. Emotion is a strong 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 have your hearing tested together. After you make the decision schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Don’t delay.
- Step 5: There might be some opposition so be prepared. These could arise at any time in the process. You know this person. What kind of doubts will they have? Will it be lack of time, or money? Doesn’t notice a problem? They may feel that homemade remedies will be just fine. (You’re aware that “natural hearing loss cures” don’t actually work and could do more harm than good.)
Have your responses prepared ahead of time. You might even rehearse them in the mirror. These answers need to address your loved one’s concerns but they don’t need to match those listed above word-for-word
If your partner is unwilling to talk about their hearing loss, it can be challenging. Openly discussing the effect of hearing loss on your relationship can help to solidify a plan to deal with any communication challenges and ensure that both partners are heard and understood. By having this conversation, you’ll grow closer and get your partner the help they need to live a longer, healthier, more rewarding life. Growing together – isn’t that what love is all about?