It’s something a lot of individuals suffer with, but few want to talk about – hearing loss and its impact on personal relationships. Hearing loss can create communication barriers that result in misunderstandings and aggravation for both partners.
This is the ideal time for you to express your love and appreciation for your loved one with Valentine’s Day right around the corner. Discussing hearing loss together is a great way to do this.
Having “the talk”
Studies have revealed that a person with neglected hearing loss is 2.4 times more likely to experience dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. A cascade effect that will ultimately impact the whole brain will be initiated when the part of your brain in charge of hearing becomes less engaged. This is called brain atrophy by doctors. You know how the old saying goes, “use it or lose it”.
Depression rates amongst those who have hearing loss are nearly twice that of an individual who has healthy hearing. Research shows that as a person’s hearing loss worsens, they often become stressed and agitated. The person may start to separate themselves from family and friends. As they fall deeper into sadness, people who have hearing loss are likely to avoid taking part in the activities they once enjoyed.
This, in turn, can result in relationship stress among mother and son, father and daughter, close friends, spouses, and other people in this person’s life. It’s important to be patient and work together to find solutions to communication problems.
Somebody who is developing hearing loss might not be ready to discuss it. They may be afraid or ashamed. They may be in denial. You may need to do a bit of detective work to figure out when it’s time to have the talk.
Since you can’t hear what your partner or parent hears, you’ll have to depend on outward clues, such as:
- Failing to hear alarms, doorbells, and other essential sounds
- Turning the volume way up on your TV
- Avoiding busy places
- School, work, and hobbies are starting to become difficult
- Frequent misunderstandings
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other noises that you can’t hear
- Avoiding conversations
- Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
Plan on having a heart-to-heart discussion with your loved one if you observe any of these symptoms.
How to discuss hearing loss
Having this conversation may not be easy. A loved one might become defensive and brush it off if they’re in denial. That’s why discussing hearing loss in the right way is so crucial. You may need to modify your language based on your unique relationship, but the steps will be basically the same.
- Step 1: Tell them that you love them unconditionally and 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 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 worry. Your hearing may be damaged by an excessively loud TV. Also, your relationship can be affected, as studies have revealed that excessively loud noise can trigger anxiety. Your loved one may not hear you calling for help if you have a fall or somebody’s broken into the house. Emotion is a powerful way to connect with others. If you can paint an emotional picture of the what-ifs, it’s more impactful than merely listing facts.
- Step 4: Schedule an appointment to get a hearing test together. Do it immediately after making the decision. Don’t hold off.
- Step 5: Be prepared for objections. These could happen anywhere in the process. You know this person. What kind of doubts will they have? Will it be lack of time, or money? Possibly they don’t see that it’s a problem. They might feel that home remedies will be good enough. (You recognize “natural hearing loss cures” don’t actually work and could cause more harm than good.)
Be prepared with your answers. Even a little practice 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 spouse 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 address any communication issues and ensure that both partners are heard and understood. By having this conversation, you’ll grow closer and get your loved one the help they need to live a longer, healthier, more fulfilling life. And relationships are, after all, about growing together.
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