It’s something lots of individuals cope with, but few want to talk about – hearing loss and its effect on personal relationships. Both partners can feel aggravated by the misunderstandings that are created by hearing loss.
This is the perfect time for you to express your love and appreciation for your loved one with Valentine’s Day right around the corner. A wonderful way to do this is to have a discussion about your hearing loss.
Having “the talk”
A person with untreated hearing loss has a 2.4 times more likely risk of experiencing cognitive conditions including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease according to some studies. When the region of your brain responsible for hearing becomes less active, it can begin a cascade effect that can affect your whole brain. This is called brain atrophy by doctors. You remember how the old saying goes, “use it or lose it”.
Depression rates among individuals who have hearing loss are nearly double that of an individual who has healthy hearing. Research shows that as a person’s hearing loss progresses, they often become anxious and agitated. This can lead to the person being self isolated from family and friends. As they sink deeper into sadness, people with hearing loss are likely to avoid taking part in the activities they once enjoyed.
This, as a result, can result in relationship stress among mother and son, daughter and father, 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 difficulties.
Your loved one may not be ready to inform you they’re developing hearing loss. They may feel shame and fear. They may be in denial. You might need to do a bit of detective work to determine when it’s time to have the talk.
Here are a few external clues you will need to rely on because you can’t hear what others are hearing:
- Frequent misunderstandings
- Avoiding conversations
- Avoiding busy places
- Turning the volume way up on your TV
- Sudden difficulty with work, hobbies, or school
- Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
- Complaining about ringing, humming, static, or other noises that you don’t hear
- Failing to hear alerts, doorbells, and other significant sounds
Watch for these prevalent symptoms and plan on having a heart-to-heart talk with your loved one.
What is the best way to discuss hearing loss?
This discussion may not be an easy one to have. A loved one may become defensive and brush it off if they’re in denial. That’s why approaching hearing loss in an appropriate manner is so crucial. You might need to modify your language based on your unique relationship, but the strategies will be more or less the same.
- Step 1: Tell them that you love them unconditionally and appreciate your relationship.
- Step 2: The state of their health is important to you. You’ve seen the research. You know that an increased risk of depression and dementia comes along with untreated hearing loss. You don’t want that for your loved one.
- Step 3: Your own safety and health are also a concern. An overly loud television could harm your hearing. Also, your relationship can be impacted, as studies have shown that overly loud noise can cause anxiety. Your loved one may not hear you yelling for help if you’ve fallen or somebody’s broken into the house. Emotion is a strong way to connect with others. If you can paint an emotional picture of the what-ifs, it’s more impactful than just listing facts.
- Step 4: Agree together to make an appointment to get a hearing exam. Do it right away after making the decision. Don’t wait.
- Step 5: Be prepared for objections. You could encounter these oppositions at any time in the process. You know this person. What sort of doubts will they have? Money? Time? Possibly they don’t detect that it’s a problem. Do they think they can use do-it-yourself remedies? (“Natural hearing loss cures” aren’t effective and can even be harmful.)
Be ready with your responses. You may even practice them in the mirror. They don’t have to match those listed above word-for-word, but they should address your loved one’s concerns.
Talking about hearing loss isn’t easy if your partner isn’t willing to discuss it. Openly discussing the impact of hearing loss on your relationship can help to establish a plan to deal with any communication challenges and make sure that both partners are heard and understood. By doing this, your relationship will grow stronger and your loved one will take steps to live a longer, healthier life. And relationships are, after all, about growing together.
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