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 a problem many people deal with. Both partners can feel aggravated 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 just around the corner. A great way to do this is to have a discussion about your hearing loss.

Having “the talk”

A person with 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. A cascade effect that will inevitably impact the whole brain will be initiated when the part of your brain responsible for hearing becomes less active. Doctors call this brain atrophy. It’s the “use it or lose it” idea in action.

Depression rates amongst individuals with hearing loss are almost double that of an individual with healthy hearing. People frequently become stressed and agitated as their hearing loss worsens according to research. The person may begin to separate themselves from family and friends. They are also likely to stop involving themselves in the activities they used to enjoy as they fall deeper into a state of depression.

This, in turn, can lead to relationship stress among mother and son, father and daughter, close friends, spouses, and others in this person’s life. Communication issues need to be managed with patients and compassion.

Mystery solved

Somebody who is experiencing hearing loss might not be ready to discuss it. They might be afraid or ashamed. Denial might have set in. Deciding when to have the conversation could take a bit of detective work.

Here are some external clues you will need to depend on because you can’t hear what others are hearing:

  • Avoiding conversations
  • School, work, and hobbies are starting to become difficult
  • Agitation or anxiety in social settings that you haven’t previously observed
  • Failing to hear alarms, doorbells, and other essential sounds
  • Complaining about ringing, humming, static, or other noises that you can’t hear
  • Watching TV with the volume really high
  • Repeated misunderstandings
  • Avoiding busy places

Look for these prevalent symptoms and plan on having a heart-to-heart talk with your loved one.

How to discuss hearing loss

This talk may not be an easy one to have. A spouse in denial might brush it off or become defensive. That’s why it’s crucial to discuss hearing loss in a sensitive and appropriate way. The steps will be basically the same but possibly with some small modifications based on your specific relationship situation.

  • Step 1: Let them know that you love them without condition and appreciate your relationship.
  • Step 2: You’re concerned about their health. You’ve read the studies. You know that neglected hearing loss can result in an increased risk of depression and dementia. You don’t want that for your loved one.
  • Step 3: You’re also worried about your own health and safety. An excessively loud TV could harm your hearing. Also, your relationship can be impacted, as studies have shown that excessively loud noise can trigger anxiety. Your loved one might not hear you yelling for help if you’ve fallen or someone’s broken into the house. Emotion is a powerful way to connect with others. Merely listing facts won’t have as much impact as painting an emotional picture.
  • Step 4: Make an appointment to get a hearing test together. Do it immediately after making the decision. Don’t wait.
  • Step 5: Be ready for objections. You could find these oppositions at any time in the process. You know this person. What kind of objections will they have? Money? Time? Maybe they don’t detect that it’s an issue. They may feel that homemade remedies will be good enough. (You recognize “natural hearing loss cures” don’t really work and could cause more harm than good.)

Have your responses prepared ahead of time. You might even practice them in the mirror. 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

Talking about hearing loss isn’t easy if your significant other 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 issues and ensure that both partners are heard and understood. By doing this, 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.

Medical information dates as new research comes out all the time - if you have a concern about your hearing, please call us.

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