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

It’s something lots of individuals cope with, but few want to talk about – hearing loss and its effect on personal relationships. Both partners can feel frustrated by the misunderstandings that are caused by hearing loss.
This is the ideal time for you to express your love and appreciation for your loved one with Valentine’s Day right around the corner. A wonderful way to do this is to have a discussion about your hearing loss.

Having “the talk”

A person experiencing neglected hearing loss has a 2.4 times more likely risk of experiencing cognitive disorders including 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 impact your entire brain. This is called brain atrophy by doctors. You remember how the old saying goes, “use it or lose it”.

Depression numbers among individuals with hearing loss are nearly double that of a person with healthy hearing. Individuals frequently become stressed and agitated as their hearing loss worsens according to research. This can result in the person being self isolated from friends and family. They are also likely to stop getting involved 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. It’s important to be patient and work together to find solutions to communication problems.

Mystery solved

Somebody who is experiencing hearing loss might not be ready to talk about it. They may be afraid or ashamed. They may be in denial. Deciding when to have the conversation could take a little detective work.

Since you can’t hear what your partner or parent hears, you’ll have to depend on external cues, such as:

  • Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
  • Frequent misunderstandings
  • Avoiding busy places
  • Failing to hear alerts, doorbells, and other significant sounds
  • School, work, and hobbies are starting to become difficult
  • Avoiding conversations
  • Cranking the volume way up on your TV
  • Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other sounds that you don’t hear

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

How to discuss hearing loss

This discussion may not be an easy one to have. A partner in denial may brush it off or become defensive. That’s why approaching hearing loss in the right way is so crucial. The steps will be pretty much the same but perhaps with some small modifications based on your specific relationship situation.

  • Step 1: Tell them how much you love them unconditionally and how much you appreciate your relationship.
  • Step 2: You’re worried about their health. You’ve read the studies. You’re aware that neglected hearing loss can result in an increased risk of dementia and depression. You don’t want your loved one to deal with that.
  • Step 3: Your own safety and health are also a concern. An overly loud television could damage your hearing. Also, your relationship can be impacted, as studies have shown that overly loud noise can trigger anxiety. If you have a burglar in your house or you’ve fallen down, your partner may not hear you yelling for help. People relate to others through emotion. If you can paint an emotional picture of the what-ifs, it will have more impact than merely listing facts.
  • Step 4: Agree together to make an appointment to get a hearing exam. After you make the decision schedule an appointment right away. Don’t hold off.
  • Step 5: Be ready for objections. These could occur anywhere in the process. This is a person you know well. What kind of doubts will they have? Money? Time? Possibly they don’t detect that it’s an issue. Do they think they can use homemade remedies? (“Natural hearing loss remedies” are not effective and can even be harmful.)

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

Relationship growth

If your spouse is unwilling to talk about their hearing loss, it can be challenging. Openly talking about the effect of hearing loss on your relationship can help to solidify a plan to address any communication challenges and ensure that both partners are heard and understood. In this way, your relationship will get stronger and your partner will take measures to live a longer, healthier life. And relationships are, after all, about growing together.

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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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