Want to show how much you care? Really listen when your loved ones talk to you. But you have to be able to hear in order to really listen.
Research reveals one out of three adults between 65 and 74 is suffering from hearing loss and millions would benefit from using a hearing aid. But only 30% of those people actually wear hearing aids, regrettably.
Diminishing hearing, depression, higher dementia rates, and strained relationships are some outcomes of this inaction. Suffering in silence is how many people deal with their hearing loss.
But it’s nearly springtime. It’s a time for emerging leaves, flowers, new beginnings, and growing together. Isn’t it time to renew your relationship by talking openly about hearing loss?
It’s Important to Have “The Talk”
Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, is 2.4 times more likely in people who have neglected hearing loss according to many studies. When the part of your brain used for hearing becomes less active, it can begin a cascade effect that can affect your overall brain. Doctors refer to this as brain atrophy. It’s the “use it or lose it” concept in action.
Depression cases among people with hearing loss are almost twice that of someone with normal hearing. People who have deteriorating hearing loss, according to research, often experience agitation and anxiety. The person may begin to isolate themselves from friends and family. They’re likely to fall deeper into melancholy as they stop engaging in activities once loved.
This, in turn, can result in relationship strain among spouses, but also between parent and child, close friends, and other people in this individual’s life.
Solving The Puzzle
Your loved one might not be ready to reveal that they are suffering from hearing loss. Fear or embarrassment might be an issue for them. Perhaps they’re going through denial. You may need to do some detective work to determine when it’s time to have the conversation.
Because it’s impossible for you to directly know how bad your spouse’s hearing loss is, you may need to rely on some of the following clues:
- Sudden trouble with work, hobbies, or school
- Avoiding conversations
- Turning the volume way up on the TV
- Ringing, buzzing, and other sounds that no one else can hear
- New levels of anxiousness in social situations
- Steering clear of places with lots of activity and people
- Frequent misunderstandings
- Important sounds, like someone calling their name, a doorbell, or a warning alarm are frequently missed
Watch for for these common symptoms and plan to have a heart-to-heart conversation with your loved one.
How to Talk About Hearing Loss
Having this conversation may not be easy. You might get the brush off or even a more defensive reaction from a partner in denial. That’s why it’s essential to approach hearing loss correctly. The steps will be the basically same even though you might need to modify your language based on your distinct relationship.
Step 1: Make them aware that you value your relationship and have unconditional love for them.
Step 2: Their health is important to you and you’re concerned. You’ve read the studies. You’re aware of the increased dementia risk and depression that accompany neglected hearing loss. That’s not what you want for your loved one.
Step 3: You’re also worried about your own health and safety. Your hearing can be damaged by overly high volumes on the TV and other devices. Relationships can also be impacted by the anxiety loud noises can cause, according to some studies. Your loved one might not hear you calling for help if you’ve fallen or someone’s broken into the house.
People engage with others by using emotion. If you can paint an emotional picture of the what-ifs, it’s more effective than just listing facts.
Step 4: Agree together to schedule an appointment to get a hearing test. After deciding, make the appointment right away. Don’t procrastinate.
Step 5: Be ready for objections. These might occur anytime during the process. You know this person. What will they object to? Costs? Time? Do they not acknowledge a problem? Do they think they can use homemade remedies? You understand “natural hearing loss cures” don’t actually work and could do more harm than good.
Be ready with your responses. Perhaps you practice them ahead of time. They don’t have to be those listed above word-for-word, but they should answer your loved one’s concerns.
Grow Your Relationship
If your loved one is reluctant to talk, it can be a tough situation. But by having this discussion, you’ll grow closer and get your loved one the help they need to live a longer, healthier, more fulfilling life. Growing together – isn’t that what love is all about?