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

It’s something lots of people suffer with, but few want to talk about – hearing loss and its effect on personal relationships. Hearing loss can cause communication obstacles that lead to 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 just around the corner. A wonderful way to do this is to have a discussion about your hearing loss.

Having “the talk”

Studies have revealed that a person with untreated hearing loss is 2.4 times more likely to develop dementia, and that includes Alzheimer’s disease. When the region of your brain used for hearing becomes less engaged, it can start a cascade effect that can impact your whole brain. This is referred to as brain atrophy by doctors. You know how the old saying goes, “use it or lose it”.

Depression rates are nearly half in individuals who have normal hearing compared to those who have hearing loss. People often become anxious and agitated as their hearing loss progresses according to research. The person may begin to isolate themselves from friends and family. As they fall deeper into depression, people with hearing loss are likely to stop taking part in the activities they once enjoyed.

This, as a result, can result in relationship stress among mother and son, daughter and father, close friends, spouses, and other people in this person’s life. It’s essential to be patient and work together to find solutions to communication difficulties.

Mystery solved

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

Because you can’t hear what your partner or parent hears, you’ll need to depend on outward clues, such as:

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

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

What is the best way to discuss hearing loss?

Having this conversation may not be easy. A partner in denial may brush it off or become defensive. That’s why approaching hearing loss in the right way is so crucial. You may need to modify your language based on your unique relationship, but the steps will be basically the same.

  • Step 1: Inform them how much you love them without condition and how much you appreciate your relationship.
  • Step 2: You are concerned about their health. You’ve read the studies. You’re aware that neglected hearing loss can lead to a higher risk of dementia and depression. You don’t want your loved one to go through that.
  • Step 3: You’re also worried about your own safety and health. Your hearing may be damaged by an overly loud TV. In addition, research shows that increased noise can trigger anxiety, which may affect your relationship. Your loved one might not hear you yelling for help if you have a fall or someone’s broken into the house. People relate to others through emotion. Simply listing facts won’t have as much impact as painting an emotional picture.
  • Step 4: Agree together to schedule an appointment to get a hearing exam. After you make the decision make an appointment right away. Don’t wait.
  • Step 5: There might be some objections so be prepared. These could happen anywhere in the process. You know this person. What will their doubts be? Will it be lack of time, or money? Maybe they don’t see that it’s an issue. They may feel that home remedies will be good enough. (“Natural hearing loss remedies” aren’t effective and can even be harmful.)

Be ready with your responses. You may even rehearse them in the mirror. These responses need to address your loved one’s concerns but they don’t need to match those listed above word-for-word

Relationship growth

Talking about hearing loss isn’t easy if your significant other doesn’t want to talk about it. Openly talking about the effect of hearing loss on your relationship can help to solidify a plan to deal with any communication issues and ensure that both partners are heard and understood. By having this talk, you’ll grow closer and get your loved one the help they need to live a longer, healthier, more rewarding 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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