Illini Hearing - Champaign and Mahomet, IL

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

It’s something lots of people 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 aggravation for both partners.
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner isn’t it a great opportunity to express your love and appreciation for your loved one? Discussing hearing loss together is an ideal way to do this.

Having “the talk”

Studies have found that a person with neglected hearing loss is 2.4 times more likely to experience dementia, and that includes Alzheimer’s disease. A cascade effect that will inevitably affect the entire brain will be caused when the region of your brain responsible for hearing becomes less engaged. This is referred to as brain atrophy by doctors. You remember how the old saying goes, “use it or lose it”.

Depression rates amongst individuals with hearing loss are nearly twice that of a person with healthy hearing. Individuals often become anxious and agitated as their hearing loss worsens according to research. The individual could begin to seclude themselves from friends and family. They are also likely to avoid involving themselves in the activities they used to enjoy as they sink deeper into a state of depression.

This, as a result, can result in relationship stress among mother and son, daughter and father, close friends, spouses, and others in this person’s life. Communication problems need to be handled with patients and compassion.

Mystery solved

Somebody who is developing hearing loss may not be ready to discuss it. They might be afraid or ashamed. Denial may 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 spouse or parent hears, you’ll have to depend on outward clues, like:

  • School, work, and hobbies are starting to become difficult
  • Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
  • Avoiding busy places
  • Complaining about ringing, humming, static, or other noises that you can’t hear
  • Not hearing important sounds, such as the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or somebody calling their name
  • Avoiding conversations
  • Repeated misunderstandings
  • Cranking the volume way up on your TV

Look for these common symptoms and plan to have a heart-to-heart conversation with your loved one.

What is the best way to talk about hearing loss?

Having this talk might not be easy. A loved one may become defensive and brush it off if they’re in denial. That’s why discussing hearing loss in an appropriate manner is so important. You might need to modify your language based on your unique relationship, but the strategies will be basically the same.

  • Step 1: Let them know that you love them unconditionally and value your relationship.
  • Step 2: You’re worried about their health. You’ve read the studies. You know that untreated hearing loss can lead to an increased chance of dementia and depression. You don’t want that for your loved one.
  • Step 3: Your own safety and health are also a concern. An overly loud TV could damage your hearing. Additionally, studies show that increased noise can trigger anxiety, which may impact your relationship. Your loved one may not hear you yelling for help if you’ve fallen or somebody’s broken into the house. People connect with others through emotion. 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 get a hearing test together. After you make the decision schedule an appointment right away. Don’t wait.
  • Step 5: There might be some opposition so be prepared. You could encounter these objections at any time in the process. This is a person you know well. What will their objections be? Money? Time? Possibly they don’t see that it’s an issue. Do they think they can utilize do-it-yourself remedies? (You recognize “natural hearing loss cures” don’t really work and could cause more harm than good.)

Have your answers prepared beforehand. Even a little rehearsal can’t hurt. They don’t have to match those listed above word-for-word, but they should concentrate on your loved one’s concerns.

Relationship growth

Discussing hearing loss isn’t easy if your partner isn’t willing to talk about it. Developing a plan to tackle potential communication problems and the impact hearing loss can have on your relationship will help both partners have confidence that their worries will be heard and understood. By doing this, your relationship will grow stronger and your partner will take steps 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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