It’s something a lot of people suffer with, but few want to talk about – hearing loss and its effect on personal relationships. Hearing loss can create communication obstacles that result in misunderstandings and aggravation for both partners.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner isn’t it a great opportunity to show your love and appreciation for your loved one? A wonderful way to do this is to talk to your loved one about your hearing loss.
Having “the talk”
Studies have revealed that an individual with neglected hearing loss is 2.4 times more likely to experience dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. A cascade effect that will eventually affect the entire brain will be initiated when the region of your brain responsible for hearing becomes less active. Doctors call this brain atrophy. It’s the “use it or lose it” principle in action.
Depression numbers among those who have hearing loss are almost twice that of a person with healthy hearing. Studies have shown that as a person’s hearing loss worsens, they frequently become stressed and agitated. This can result in the person being self secluded from friends and family. They are also likely to avoid involving themselves in the activities they once enjoyed as they sink deeper into a state of depression.
Relationships between family, friends, and others then become tense. Communication issues need to be managed with patients and compassion.
Your loved one may not be ready to tell you they are experiencing hearing loss. They may be afraid or embarrassed. Denial might have set in. You may need to do a bit of detective work to figure out when it’s time to have the conversation.
Here are some external clues you will need to rely on because you can’t hear what other people are hearing:
- Repeated misunderstandings
- Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
- Not hearing important sounds, like the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or somebody calling their name
- Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other sounds that you don’t hear
- Sudden difficulty with work, hobbies, or school
- Avoiding busy places
- Watching TV with the volume extremely high
- Avoiding conversations
Plan on having a heart-to-heart talk with your loved one if you notice any of these symptoms.
What is the best way to talk about hearing loss?
Having this conversation might not be easy. A partner in denial might 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 strategies 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: The state of their health is important to you. You’ve read through the studies. 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 excessively loud TV. Also, your relationship can be impacted, as studies have revealed that overly loud noise can trigger anxiety. If you have an intruder in your house or you’ve fallen down, your partner might not hear you yelling for help. Emotion is a strong way to connect with others. Simply listing facts won’t be as impactful as painting an emotional picture.
- Step 4: Schedule an appointment to get a hearing test together. Do it right away after making the decision. Don’t delay.
- Step 5: Be ready for opposition. You could encounter these objections at any time in the process. You know this person. What will their objections be? Will it be lack of time, or money? Perhaps they don’t detect that it’s an issue. They may feel that home remedies will be just fine. (“Natural hearing loss cures” are not effective and can even be harmful.)
Have your answers prepared beforehand. You might even rehearse them in the mirror. They don’t have to match those listed above word-for-word, but they should concentrate on your loved one’s worries.
If your partner is unwilling to discuss their hearing loss, it can be difficult. Developing a plan to tackle potential communication problems and the effect hearing loss can have on your relationship will help both partners have confidence that their concerns will be heard and understood. By doing this, 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?