Audiology Associates of North Florida - Tallahassee, FL

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

The majority of people don’t want to talk about the effect hearing loss has on relationships, even though it’s an issue many people deal with. Both partners can feel frustrated 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. Talking about hearing loss together is a great way to do this.

Having “the talk”

A person with untreated hearing loss has a 2.4 times more likely chance of experiencing cognitive disorders including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease according to some studies. When the part of your brain used for hearing becomes less engaged, it can start a cascade effect that can impact your entire brain. Doctors call this brain atrophy. You remember how the old saying goes, “use it or lose it”.

Depression rates amongst individuals who have hearing loss are nearly double that of a person with healthy hearing. Studies have shown that as a person’s hearing loss progresses, they frequently become stressed and agitated. The individual could start to separate themselves from friends and family. They are also likely to avoid getting involved in the activities they used to enjoy as they sink deeper into a state of depression.

This, as a result, can lead to relationship strain among mother and son, father and daughter, close friends, spouses, and other people in this person’s life. Communication issues need to be managed with patients and compassion.

Mystery solved

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

Here are a few outward clues you will have to depend on because you can’t hear what other people are hearing:

  • Failing to hear alerts, doorbells, and other important sounds
  • Turning the volume way up on your TV
  • Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
  • Complaining about ringing, humming, static, or other sounds that you can’t hear
  • Avoiding busy places
  • Frequent misunderstandings
  • Sudden difficulty with work, hobbies, or school
  • Avoiding conversations

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

How to discuss hearing loss

Having this talk might not be easy. A spouse in denial might brush it off or become defensive. That’s why approaching hearing loss in the right way is so relevant. You may need to modify your language based on your unique relationship, but the strategies will be more or less the same.

  • Step 1: Tell them that you love them without condition and value your relationship.
  • Step 2: The state of their health is very important to you. You’ve seen the research. You’re aware that an increased risk of depression and dementia comes along with neglected hearing loss. That’s not what you want for your loved one.
  • Step 3: You’re also worried about your own safety and health. An overly loud TV could harm your hearing. Also, your relationship can be affected, as studies have revealed that excessively loud noise can trigger anxiety. Your loved one might not hear you yelling for help if you have a fall or somebody’s broken into the house. Emotion is a strong way to connect with others. If you can paint an emotional picture of the what-ifs, it’s more impactful than just listing facts.
  • Step 4: Make an appointment to have your hearing tested together. Do it right away after making the decision. Don’t wait.
  • Step 5: There might be some objections so be ready. These could happen anywhere in the process. You know this person. What will their doubts be? Money? Time? Doesn’t see an issue? Do they think they can utilize homemade methods? (“Natural hearing loss cures” aren’t effective and can even be harmful.)

Have your responses prepared beforehand. Even a little practice can’t hurt. These responses 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 partner isn’t willing to talk about their hearing loss, it can be challenging. Developing a plan to deal with potential communication problems 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 having this talk, you’ll grow closer and get your partner the help they need to live a longer, healthier, more rewarding 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.
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