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

Most individuals don’t want to talk about the impact hearing loss has on relationships, even though it’s an issue many people cope with. Hearing loss can cause communication barriers that result in misunderstandings and aggravation 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. A wonderful way to do this is to talk to your loved one about your hearing loss.

Having “the talk”

A person experiencing untreated hearing loss has a 2.4 times more likely risk of experiencing cognitive conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease according to some studies. When the part of your brain used for hearing becomes less active, it can begin a cascade effect that can affect your whole brain. This is referred to as brain atrophy by doctors. You know how the old saying goes, “use it or lose it”.

Depression rates are nearly half in people who have healthy hearing compared to people who have hearing loss. Research shows that as a person’s hearing loss progresses, they often become anxious and agitated. The person may begin to isolate themselves from friends and family. As they fall deeper into sadness, people with hearing loss are likely to stop engaging in the activities they once enjoyed.

This, in turn, can result in relationship strain 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 problems.

Mystery solved

Your loved one might not be ready to let you know they’re experiencing hearing loss. They may be afraid or embarrassed. Denial may have set in. You might need to do a bit of detective work to determine when it’s time to have the conversation.

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

  • Agitation or anxiety in social settings that you haven’t previously observed
  • Failing to hear alarms, doorbells, and other essential sounds
  • Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other noises that you don’t hear
  • Watching TV with the volume really high
  • Avoiding conversations
  • Avoiding busy places
  • Sudden difficulty with work, hobbies, or school
  • Repeated misunderstandings

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

How to discuss hearing loss

Having this talk might not be easy. A partner in denial may brush it off or become defensive. That’s why approaching hearing loss in an appropriate manner is so important. You may need to alter your language based on your unique relationship, but the steps will be basically the same.

  • Step 1: Tell them that you love them without condition and value your relationship.
  • Step 2: The state of their health is important to you. You’ve seen the research. You know that untreated hearing loss can result in an increased risk of depression and dementia. That’s not what you want for your loved one.
  • Step 3: Your own safety and health are also a concern. Your hearing may be harmed by an excessively loud TV. In addition, research shows that increased noise can cause anxiety, which may affect your relationship. If you have a burglar in your house or you’ve fallen down, 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: Decide together to make an appointment to get a hearing test. After you make the decision schedule an appointment right away. Don’t delay.
  • Step 5: There might be some opposition so be ready. These could happen anywhere in the process. This is a person you know well. What sort of doubts will they have? Will it be lack of time, or money? Doesn’t see an issue? They might feel that homemade remedies will be good enough. (“Natural hearing loss cures” are not effective and can even be harmful.)

Have your responses prepared beforehand. Even a little rehearsal can’t hurt. 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

Discussing hearing loss isn’t easy if your partner isn’t willing to discuss it. Openly discussing the effect of hearing loss on your relationship can help to solidify a plan to address any communication challenges 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. 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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