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

Most individuals don’t want to discuss the impact hearing loss has on relationships, even though it’s an issue many people cope with. Hearing loss can create communication barriers that lead to misunderstandings and aggravation for both partners.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner isn’t it a great time to show your love and appreciation for your loved one? A great way to do this is to have a discussion about your hearing loss.

Having “the talk”

Studies have revealed that a person with untreated hearing loss is 2.4 times more likely to experience dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. When the region of your brain used for hearing becomes less active, it can start a cascade effect that can impact your entire brain. Doctors refer to this as brain atrophy. You know how the old saying goes, “use it or lose it”.

Depression cases are almost half in people who have normal hearing compared to people who have hearing loss. Research shows that as a person’s hearing loss worsens, they often become anxious and agitated. This can result in the person being self secluded from family and friends. They are also likely to avoid involving themselves in the activities they used to enjoy as they sink deeper into a state of sadness.

Relationships between family, friends, and others then become tense. Communication issues need to be managed with patients and compassion.

Mystery solved

Your loved one may not be ready to tell you they are developing hearing loss. They may be afraid or embarrassed. They could be in denial. Deciding when to have the talk could take a bit of detective work.

Here are some external cues you will have to depend on because you can’t hear what other people are hearing:

  • Failing to hear alarms, doorbells, and other important sounds
  • Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
  • Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other sounds that you can’t hear
  • Sudden difficulty with work, hobbies, or school
  • Avoiding conversations
  • Avoiding busy places
  • Repeated 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 discuss hearing loss?

Having this discussion may not be easy. A loved one could become defensive and brush it off if they’re in denial. That’s why it’s essential to discuss hearing loss in a sensitive and appropriate way. The steps will be essentially the same but possibly with some slight alterations based on your particular relationship situation.

  • Step 1: Inform them how much you love them unconditionally and how much you appreciate your relationship.
  • Step 2: The state of their health is very important to you. You’ve read through the research. You know that untreated hearing loss can result in an increased risk of depression and dementia. You don’t want your loved one to deal with that.
  • Step 3: Your own safety and health are also a worry. Your hearing may be harmed by an overly loud TV. Also, your relationship can be affected, as studies have revealed that excessively loud noise can trigger anxiety. Your loved one might not hear you calling for help if you have a fall or somebody’s broken into the house. People relate to others through emotion. Merely listing facts won’t have as much impact as painting an emotional picture.
  • Step 4: Agree together to schedule an appointment to get a hearing test. Do it right away after making the decision. Don’t wait.
  • Step 5: Be ready for objections. These could occur at any time in the process. You know this person. What will their doubts be? Will it be lack of time, or money? Doesn’t notice a problem? Do they believe they can utilize do-it-yourself remedies? (You recognize “natural hearing loss cures” don’t actually work and could do more harm than good.)

Have your answers prepared ahead of time. You might even rehearse them in the mirror. These answers need to address your loved one’s Worries but they don’t have to match those listed above word-for-word

Relationship growth

Talking about hearing loss isn’t easy if your partner isn’t willing to talk about 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 measures to live a longer, healthier life. And relationships are, after all, about growing together.

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