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

It’s something lots of individuals cope with, but most don’t want to talk about – hearing loss and its impact on personal relationships. Hearing loss can cause communication barriers 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. Discussing hearing loss together is an ideal way to do this.

Having “the talk”

Studies have found that an individual with neglected hearing loss is 2.4 times more likely to develop dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. A cascade effect that will eventually impact the entire brain will be initiated when the region of your brain in charge of hearing becomes less engaged. This is called brain atrophy by doctors. You know how the old saying goes, “use it or lose it”.

Depression cases are nearly half in people who have healthy hearing compared to those who have hearing loss. Research shows that as a person’s hearing loss gets worse, they often become stressed and agitated. The individual could start to separate themselves from friends and family. As they fall deeper into depression, people who have hearing loss are likely to stop participating 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 determine solutions to communication challenges.

Mystery solved

Your loved one might not be ready to let you know they’re experiencing hearing loss. They might feel shame and fear. Denial may have set in. Deciding when to have the talk may take a bit of detective work.

Here are a few external clues you will have to depend on because you can’t hear what others are hearing:

  • Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
  • Avoiding conversations
  • Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other noises that you don’t hear
  • Watching television with the volume really high
  • Sudden difficulty with work, hobbies, or school
  • Avoiding busy places
  • Repeated misunderstandings
  • Not hearing important sounds, like the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or somebody calling their name

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

How to talk about hearing loss

This talk might not be an easy one to have. A loved one might become defensive and brush it off if they’re in denial. That’s why discussing hearing loss in an appropriate manner is so important. The steps will be pretty much the same but maybe with some small alterations based on your particular relationship situation.

  • Step 1: Tell them how much you love them without condition and how much you value your relationship.
  • Step 2: You’re worried about their health. You’ve seen the research. You’re aware that a higher risk of depression and dementia comes along with untreated hearing loss. You don’t want your loved one to deal with that.
  • Step 3: Your own safety and health are also a worry. An overly loud TV could harm your hearing. Additionally, studies show that increased noise can trigger anxiety, which might affect your relationship. Your loved one might not hear you yelling for help if you have a fall 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 will have more impact than merely listing facts.
  • Step 4: Schedule 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 prepared. You could find these oppositions at any point in the process. This is a person you know well. What will their objections be? Will it be lack of time, or money? Maybe they don’t detect that it’s an issue. They might feel that homemade remedies will be just fine. (“Natural hearing loss remedies” aren’t effective and can even be harmful.)

Be prepared with your answers. Even a bit of practice 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

If your spouse isn’t willing to talk about their hearing loss, it can be difficult. Openly talking about the effect of hearing loss on your relationship can help to establish a plan to deal with any communication challenges and ensure that both partners are heard and understood. In this way, your relationship will grow stronger and your loved one will take measures 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.