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

It’s something a lot of people suffer with, but few want to talk about – hearing loss and its impact on personal relationships. Hearing loss can create communication barriers that lead to misunderstandings and frustration for both partners.
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner isn’t it the perfect opportunity to show your love and appreciation for your loved one? Discussing hearing loss together is a great way to do this.

Having “the talk”

A person with untreated hearing loss has a 2.4 times more likely risk of developing cognitive conditions including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease according to some studies. A cascade effect that will inevitably affect the entire brain will be caused when the part of your brain in charge of hearing becomes less active. Doctors call this brain atrophy. It’s the “use it or lose it” idea in action.

Depression cases are nearly half in individuals who have normal hearing compared to those who have hearing loss. 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 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, in turn, can result in relationship stress among mother and son, father and daughter, close friends, spouses, and others in this person’s life. It’s essential to be patient and work together to determine solutions to communication difficulties.

Mystery solved

Somebody who is developing hearing loss might not be ready to discuss it. They might be afraid or embarrassed. Denial may have set in. Deciding when to have the talk may take a bit of detective work.

Here are a few outward clues you will need to depend on because you can’t hear what other people are hearing:

  • Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other noises that you don’t hear
  • Sudden difficulty with work, hobbies, or school
  • Avoiding conversations
  • Avoiding busy places
  • Failing to hear alerts, doorbells, and other significant sounds
  • Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
  • Frequent misunderstandings
  • Turning the volume way up on your TV

Plan to have a heart-to-heart discussion with your loved one if you notice any of these symptoms.

What is the best way to talk about hearing loss?

This discussion may not be an easy one to have. A spouse in denial might brush it off or become defensive. That’s why it’s crucial to approach hearing loss in a sensitive and appropriate way. The steps will be essentially the same but perhaps with some small modifications based on your particular relationship situation.

  • Step 1: Tell them that you love them without condition and appreciate your relationship.
  • Step 2: You’re concerned about their health. You’ve read through the studies. You know that untreated hearing loss can lead to an increased 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. An overly loud TV could harm your hearing. Also, your relationship can be affected, as studies have shown that excessively loud noise can trigger anxiety. If you have an intruder in your house or you’ve fallen down, your partner may not hear you calling for help. People connect with others through emotion. If you can paint an emotional picture of the what-ifs, it’s more impactful than simply listing facts.
  • Step 4: Make an appointment to get a hearing test together. After you make the decision make an appointment as soon as possible. Don’t hold off.
  • Step 5: There might be some objections so be prepared. These could happen anywhere in the process. This is a person you know well. What sort of doubts will they have? Money? Time? Doesn’t see an issue? They might feel that home remedies will be good enough. (“Natural hearing loss cures” aren’t effective and can even be harmful.)

Have your responses prepared beforehand. Even a little rehearsal can’t hurt. They don’t have to match those listed above word-for-word, but they should concentrate on your loved one’s concerns.

Relationship growth

If your partner isn’t willing to talk about their hearing loss, it can be challenging. Openly talking about the effect of hearing loss on your relationship can help to establish a plan to address any communication issues and make sure that both partners are heard and understood. In this way, your relationship will get 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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