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

It’s something a lot of individuals suffer with, but few want to talk about – hearing loss and its impact on personal relationships. Hearing loss can create communication obstacles that result in misunderstandings and frustration for both partners.
This is the perfect time for you to show your love and appreciation for your loved one with Valentine’s Day just around the corner. Talking about 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. When the part of your brain responsible for hearing becomes less engaged, it can start a cascade effect that can impact your entire brain. This is called brain atrophy by doctors. It’s the “use it or lose it” concept in action.

Depression rates are almost half in people who have normal hearing compared to those who have hearing loss. Studies have shown that as a person’s hearing loss worsens, they often become stressed 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 fall deeper into a state of sadness.

This, as a result, can result in relationship stress among mother and son, father and daughter, close friends, spouses, and other people in this person’s life. It’s essential to be patient and work together to determine solutions to communication challenges.

Mystery solved

Your loved one may not be ready to let you know they’re developing hearing loss. They might be afraid or ashamed. They may be in denial. You might need to do some detective work to determine when it’s time to have the talk.

Since you can’t hear what your spouse or parent hears, you’ll need to depend on outward clues, such as:

  • Avoiding busy places
  • Not hearing important sounds, like the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or someone calling their name
  • Avoiding conversations
  • Sudden difficulty with work, hobbies, or school
  • Watching television with the volume really high
  • Agitation or anxiety in social settings that you haven’t previously observed
  • Frequent misunderstandings
  • Complaining about ringing, humming, static, or other sounds that you don’t hear

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

How to talk about hearing loss

Having this discussion might not be easy. A loved one might become defensive and brush it off if they’re in denial. That’s why it’s crucial to discuss hearing loss in a sensitive and appropriate way. You may need to alter your language based on your unique relationship, but the strategies will be basically the same.

  • Step 1: Let them know that you love them without condition and appreciate your relationship.
  • Step 2: The state of their health is very important to you. You’ve seen the research. You’re aware that an increased risk of depression and dementia comes along with neglected hearing loss. You don’t want your loved one to experience that.
  • Step 3: You’re also concerned about your own health and safety. Your hearing could be damaged by an overly loud TV. Also, your relationship can be affected, as studies have revealed that excessively loud noise can cause anxiety. Your loved one might not hear you calling 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 simply listing facts.
  • Step 4: Make an appointment to have your hearing tested together. Do it immediately after making the decision. Don’t delay.
  • Step 5: Be ready for opposition. You could encounter these oppositions at any point in the process. This is a person you know well. What sort of doubts will they have? Money? Time? Doesn’t see a problem? Do they think they can use do-it-yourself methods? (You’re aware that “natural hearing loss cures” don’t actually work and could cause more harm than good.)

Be ready with your answers. Even a bit of rehearsal can’t hurt. These answers need to address your loved one’s concerns but they don’t have to match those listed above word-for-word

Relationship growth

If your partner isn’t willing to talk about their hearing loss, it can be difficult. Developing a plan to tackle potential communication challenges 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 discussion, you’ll grow closer and get your loved one 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.