Evanston Audiology - Evanston, IL

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

It’s something a lot of people cope with, but most don’t want to talk about – hearing loss and its impact on personal relationships. Hearing loss can create communication obstacles that lead to misunderstandings and frustration for both partners.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner isn’t it the perfect opportunity to express your love and appreciation for your loved one? A great way to do this is to have a discussion about your hearing loss.

Having “the talk”

A person experiencing untreated hearing loss has a 2.4 times more likely risk of experiencing cognitive conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease according to some studies. When the part of your brain used for hearing becomes less engaged, it can begin a cascade effect that can affect your whole brain. Doctors call this brain atrophy. It’s the “use it or lose it” principle in action.

Depression rates are nearly half in individuals who have healthy hearing compared to those who have hearing loss. Individuals often become anxious and agitated as their hearing loss progresses according to research. The individual could start to seclude themselves from family and friends. As they sink deeper into depression, people with hearing loss are likely to stop taking part in the activities they once enjoyed.

Relationships between family, friends, and others then become strained. Communication problems need to be managed with patients and compassion.

Mystery solved

Someone who is developing hearing loss might not be ready to talk about it. They might be afraid or embarrassed. Denial may have set in. You may need to do some detective work to figure out when it’s time to have the conversation.

Here are some external cues you will need to depend on because you can’t hear what other people are hearing:

  • Avoiding conversations
  • Agitation or anxiety in social settings that you haven’t previously observed
  • Not hearing important sounds, such as the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or somebody calling their name
  • Complaining about buzzing, humming, static, or other sounds that you don’t hear
  • Sudden difficulty with work, hobbies, or school
  • Avoiding busy places
  • Repeated misunderstandings
  • Watching TV with the volume very high

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

How to discuss hearing loss

This talk might not be an easy one to have. A partner in denial may brush it off or become defensive. That’s why it’s essential to discuss hearing loss in a sensitive and appropriate way. You may need to modify your language based on your unique relationship, but the strategies will be more or less the same.

  • Step 1: Let them know that you love them without condition and appreciate your relationship.
  • Step 2: The state of their health is important to you. You’ve read through 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 go through that.
  • Step 3: You’re also concerned about your own health and safety. An overly loud TV could damage your hearing. Additionally, studies show that increased noise can create anxiety, which may affect your relationship. Your loved one may not hear you yelling for help if you’ve fallen or somebody’s broken into the house. Emotion is a powerful way to connect with others. If you can paint an emotional picture of the what-ifs, it will have more impact than simply listing facts.
  • Step 4: Schedule an appointment to get a hearing test together. After you make the decision make an appointment right away. 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 doubts will they have? Will it be lack of time, or money? Possibly they don’t detect that it’s an issue. They may feel that homemade remedies will be just fine. (You know “natural hearing loss cures” don’t actually work and could cause more harm than good.)

Be ready with your responses. You may 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

Talking about hearing loss isn’t easy if your partner isn’t willing to discuss it. Developing 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 concerns will be heard and understood. By doing this, your relationship will grow 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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