You care deeply about your loved ones and want to do something to show them? Really listen when your loved ones talk to you. But you need to be able to hear in order to really listen.
Research shows one out of three adults between 65 and 74 is enduring hearing loss and millions would benefit from wearing a hearing aid. Regrettably, only about 30% of these individuals actually use their hearing aids.
This inaction leads to problems hearing, in addition to higher dementia rates, depression, and strained relationships. Many people experiencing hearing loss simply suffer in silence.
But it’s nearly springtime. It’s a time for new foliage, flowers, new beginnings, and growing together. Talking candidly about hearing loss can be a superb way to renew relationships.
Having “The Talk” is Necessary
Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, is 2.4 times more likely in individuals who have untreated hearing loss according to many studies. A cascade effect that eventually affects the overall brain can be triggered when there’s decreased activity in the part of your brain used for hearing. Doctors call this brain atrophy. It’s an example of the “use it or lose it” concept at work.
People with hearing loss have nearly twice as many instances of depression than individuals who have normal hearing. Research shows that as a person’s hearing loss gets worse, they often become anxious and agitated. The person may start to seclude themselves from family and friends. They’re likely to stop involving themselves in the activities they once enjoyed as they fall deeper into a state of sadness.
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 tell you that they are developing hearing loss. Fear or shame might be a problem for them. They may be in denial. In order to decide when will be the best time to have this discussion, some detective work might be necessary.
Because it’s impossible for you to directly know how impaired your spouse’s hearing loss is, you may need to rely on some of the following clues:
- Recurring misunderstandings
- Experiencing a ringing, humming, static, or other sounds that you don’t hear
- Staying away from busy places
- essential sounds, like someone calling their name, a doorbell, or a warning alarm are often missed
- Staying away from conversations
- New levels of anxiousness in social settings
- School, hobbies, and work are suddenly becoming more difficult
- Turning the volume way up on the TV
Plan on having a heart-to-heart conversation with your loved one if you detect any of these common signs.
The Hearing Loss Talk – Here’s How
It might be hard to have this discussion. A partner in denial might brush it off or become defensive. That’s why approaching hearing loss in the proper way is so important. The steps will be the basically same although you might have to adjust your language based on your unique relationship.
Step 1: Tell them you love them unconditionally and appreciate your relationship.
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 come with 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. An excessively loud television could harm your hearing. In addition, research has shown that loud noise can lead to anxiety, which might effect your relationship. Your loved one may not hear you calling for help if you’ve fallen down or somebody’s broken into the house.
Emotion is an essential part of robust communication. Simply listing facts won’t be as impactful as painting an emotional picture of the possible consequences.
Step 4: Agree together to make an appointment to have a hearing exam. After making the decision, make the appointment right away. Don’t procrastinate.
Step 5: Be ready for your loved ones to have some objections. At any time during the process, they may have these objections. You know this individual. What will their objections be? Money? Time? Are they convinced it’s no big deal? Are they thinking about trying home remedies? You recognize “natural hearing loss cures” don’t really work and could cause more harm than good.
Be prepared with your answers. You may even rehearse them in the mirror. They don’t have to be those listed above word-for-word, but they should answer your loved one’s doubts.
Grow Your Relationship
If your significant other is not willing to talk, it can be a difficult situation. But you’ll get your loved one the assistance they require to live a long healthy life and grow closer by having this conversation. Isn’t love all about growing closer?