Cropped shot of two unrecognizable people holding hands discussing hearing loss with compassion.

The majority of people don’t want to talk about the impact hearing loss has on relationships, even though it’s a problem many people deal with. Both partners can feel aggravated by the misunderstandings that are caused by hearing loss.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner isn’t it a great time to show your love and appreciation for your loved one? Discussing hearing loss together is an ideal way to do this.

Having “the talk”

Studies have revealed that an individual with untreated hearing loss is 2.4 times more likely to experience dementia, and that includes Alzheimer’s disease. A cascade effect that will inevitably impact the entire brain will be initiated when the part of your brain responsible for hearing becomes less engaged. Doctors call this brain atrophy. You know how the old saying goes, “use it or lose it”.

Depression numbers amongst those who have hearing loss are nearly twice that of an individual who has healthy hearing. Individuals often become anxious and agitated as their hearing loss progresses according to research. This can lead to the person being self secluded from family and friends. They are also likely to stop involving themselves in the activities they once enjoyed as they fall deeper into a state of depression.

This, in turn, can lead to 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 challenges.

Mystery solved

Your loved one may not be ready to let you know they’re experiencing hearing loss. They may feel shame and fear. 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.

Because you can’t hear what your spouse or parent hears, you’ll have to rely on outward cues, such as:

  • Not hearing significant sounds, like the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or somebody calling their name
  • Watching television with the volume very high
  • Repeated misunderstandings
  • Complaining about ringing, humming, static, or other sounds that you can’t hear
  • Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
  • Avoiding busy places
  • Avoiding conversations
  • School, work, and hobbies are starting to become difficult

Plan on having a heart-to-heart talk with your loved one if you observe any of these symptoms.

How to talk about hearing loss

Having this discussion may not be easy. A partner in denial may brush it off or become defensive. That’s why it’s essential to approach hearing loss in a sensitive and appropriate way. 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 without condition and how much you appreciate your relationship.
  • Step 2: You’re worried about their health. You’ve read through the studies. You’re aware that a higher risk of depression and dementia comes along with neglected hearing loss. You don’t want your loved one to experience that.
  • Step 3: Your own safety and health are also a concern. Your hearing could be harmed by an overly loud TV. Additionally, research shows that elevated noise can cause anxiety, which might affect your relationship. If you have an intruder in your house or you’ve taken a fall, your partner might not hear you calling for help. People relate to others through emotion. 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 right away. Don’t wait.
  • Step 5: There may be some opposition so be ready. These could occur at any time in the process. You know this person. What kind of doubts will they have? Money? Time? Maybe they don’t see that it’s a problem. They might feel that homemade remedies will be good enough. (You know “natural hearing loss cures” don’t really work and could do more harm than good.)

Be ready with your responses. You may even rehearse them in the mirror. These answers need to address your loved one’s Worries but they don’t need to match those listed above word-for-word

Relationship growth

If your spouse is unwilling to discuss their hearing loss, it can be difficult. Establishing a plan to tackle potential communication problems and the impact hearing loss can have on your relationship will help both partners have confidence that their concerns will be heard and understood. By having this talk, you’ll grow closer and get your partner the help they need to live a longer, healthier, more fulfilling life. Growing together – isn’t that what love is all about?

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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