Woman and man cuddling on a park bench after getting hearing aids to improve their relationship.

You care deeply about your loved ones and want to do something to let them know? Listen to your loved ones, really listen. But you have to be able to hear in order to really listen.

Studies reveal millions of people would benefit from wearing hearing aids because one in three adults between the ages of 65 and 74 have some level of hearing loss. But only 30% of those individuals actually wear hearing aids, regrettably.

Diminishing hearing, depression, higher dementia rates, and strained relationships are some consequences of this inaction. Many people experiencing hearing loss just suffer in silence.

But it’s nearly springtime. Spring should be a time when we enjoy blossoming flowers, emerging foliage, beginning new things, and growing closer to loved ones. Isn’t it time to renew your relationship by talking openly about hearing loss?

Having “The Talk” is Important

Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, is 2.4 times more likely in individuals who have untreated hearing loss according to several studies. When the region of your brain responsible for hearing becomes less engaged, it can start a cascade effect that can impact your overall brain. Doctors call this brain atrophy. It’s an example of the “use it or lose it” principle at work.

Individuals with hearing loss have nearly two times as many instances of depression than individuals who have normal hearing. Research shows that as a person’s hearing loss worsens, they often become stressed and agitated. The person may start to seclude themselves from family and friends. They’re likely to sink deeper into depression as they stop engaging in activities once loved.

Strained relationships between friends and family members is frequently the result of this isolation.

Solving The Puzzle

Your loved one may not feel that they can talk to you about their hearing problems. They could be nervous or embarrassed. Maybe they’re dealing with denial. In order to determine when will be the appropriate time to have this discussion, some detective work may be necessary.

Since you are unable to hear what your spouse or parent hears, you’ll have to depend on external cues, including:

  • Steering clear of settings with lots of people and activity
  • Ringing, buzzing, and other noises that no one else can hear
  • Sudden difficulty with work, hobbies, or school
  • Important sounds, like someone calling their name, a doorbell, or a warning alarm are frequently missed
  • Misunderstanding situations more often
  • Cranking the volume way up on the TV
  • Irritation or anxiousness in social settings that you haven’t previously observed
  • Staying away from conversations

Plan to have a heart-to-heart conversation with your loved one if you observe any of these common symptoms.

How to Talk About Hearing Loss

Having this conversation may not be easy. You may get the brush off or even a more defensive response from a partner in denial. That’s why approaching hearing loss in an appropriate manner is so significant. You might need to adjust your language based on your distinct relationship, but the steps will be the same for the most part.

Step 1: Let them know that you love them unconditionally and appreciate your relationship.

Step 2: You’re worried about their health. You’ve gone over the studies. You know that untreated hearing loss can result in a higher risk of depression and dementia. You don’t want your loved one to go through that.

Step 3: You’re also concerned about your own health and safety. Your hearing can be harmed by excessively high volumes on the TV and other devices. Additionally, research has shown that loud noise can cause anxiety, which might effect your relationship. Your loved one might not hear you calling for help if you’ve fallen or someone’s broken into the house.

Emotion is a key part of strong communication. If you can paint an emotional picture of the what-ifs, it’s more impactful than merely listing facts.

Step 4: Agree together to make an appointment to get a hearing exam. After making the decision, make the appointment immediately. Don’t wait.

Step 5: Be ready for objections. These could occur anywhere in the process. This is someone you know well. What obstacles will they find? Costs? Time? Do they not admit to a problem? Are they considering trying out home remedies? You recognize “natural hearing loss cures” don’t really work and could cause more harm than good.

Be ready with your answers. You could even practice them in the mirror. You should speak to your loved one’s doubts but you don’t have to adhere to this exact plan word-for-word.

Grow Your Relationship

If your loved one is unwilling to talk, it can be a tough situation. But you’ll get your loved one the assistance they need to live a long healthy life and grow closer by having this talk. Growing closer – isn’t that what love is all about?

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