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

It’s something lots of individuals suffer with, but most don’t want to talk about – hearing loss and its effect on personal relationships. Hearing loss can cause communication hurdles that result in misunderstandings and frustration for both partners.
This is the ideal time for you to show your love and appreciation for your loved one with Valentine’s Day right 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 with untreated hearing loss has a 2.4 times more likely chance of experiencing cognitive conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease according to some studies. A cascade effect that will inevitably affect the whole brain will be caused when the region of your brain in charge of hearing becomes less active. Doctors refer to this as brain atrophy. You remember how the old saying goes, “use it or lose it”.

Depression cases are almost half in individuals who have healthy hearing compared to people who have hearing loss. Research shows that as a person’s hearing loss worsens, they frequently become stressed and agitated. The individual may begin to separate themselves from family and friends. As they sink deeper into depression, people who have hearing loss are likely to avoid engaging in the activities they once enjoyed.

Relationships between family, friends, and others then become tense. It’s important to be patient and work together to find solutions to communication difficulties.

Mystery solved

Your loved one may not be ready to tell you they are developing hearing loss. They might be afraid or ashamed. Denial might have set in. You might need to do some detective work to figure out when it’s time to have the conversation.

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

  • School, work, and hobbies are starting to become difficult
  • Not hearing important sounds, like the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or someone calling their name
  • Complaining about ringing, humming, static, or other sounds that you can’t hear
  • Frequent misunderstandings
  • Avoiding conversations
  • Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
  • Avoiding busy places
  • Watching television with the volume really high

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

What is the best way to discuss hearing loss?

Having this discussion may not be easy. A spouse in denial may 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 basically the same but perhaps with some small alterations based on your specific relationship situation.

  • Step 1: Let them know 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’re aware that an increased risk of depression and dementia comes along with untreated hearing loss. You don’t want your loved one to experience that.
  • Step 3: You’re also concerned about your own health and safety. An overly loud television could damage your hearing. 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 someone’s broken into the house. People connect with others through emotion. If you can paint an emotional picture of the what-ifs, it will have more impact than just listing facts.
  • Step 4: Make an appointment to have your hearing tested together. After you make the decision make an appointment as soon as possible. Don’t delay.
  • Step 5: There might be some opposition so be ready. You could encounter these objections at any point in the process. You know this person. What sort of doubts will they have? Will it be lack of time, or money? Perhaps they don’t detect that it’s a problem. Do they believe they can use homemade remedies? (You recognize “natural hearing loss cures” don’t really work and could cause more harm than good.)

Be prepared with your responses. You might even rehearse them in the mirror. They don’t need to match those listed above word-for-word, but they should concentrate on your loved one’s worries.

Relationship growth

If your spouse is unwilling to talk about their hearing loss, it can be challenging. Establishing a plan to tackle potential communication challenges and the effect hearing loss can have on your relationship will help both partners have confidence that their worries 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 rewarding 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.