Want to show how much you care? Really listen when your loved ones talk to you. But you need to be able to hear in order to really listen.
Research reveals one out of three adults between 65 and 74 is coping with hearing loss and millions would benefit from wearing a hearing aid. Sadly, only around 30% of these people actually use their hearing aids.
Diminishing hearing, depression, higher dementia rates, and strained relationships are some consequences of this inaction. Many individuals coping with hearing loss simply suffer in silence.
But it’s nearly springtime. It’s a time for emerging leaves, flowers, fresh starts, and growing together. Isn’t it time to renew your relationship by speaking openly about hearing loss?
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 ultimately impacts the entire brain can be triggered when there’s decreased activity in the region of your brain responsible for hearing. Doctors call this brain atrophy. It’s the “use it or lose it” concept in action.
Individuals with hearing loss have nearly twice as many cases of depression than people who have normal hearing. Research demonstrates that as a person’s hearing loss gets worse, they frequently become anxious and agitated. Separation from family and friends is often the result. They’re prone to stop involving themselves in the activities they once enjoyed as they sink deeper into a state of sadness.
This, in turn, can lead to relationship strain amongst spouses, but also between parent and child, close friends, and other people in this person’s life.
Solving The Mystery
Your loved one may not be ready to reveal that they are developing hearing loss. They may be afraid or ashamed. Maybe they’re going through denial. In order to determine when will be the appropriate time to have this discussion, some detective work may be needed.
Because it’s impossible for you to directly know how impaired your spouse’s hearing loss is, you may need to depend on some of the following indicators:
- Avoiding busy places
- Staying away from conversations
- New levels of anxiousness in social settings
- Experiencing a ringing, humming, static, or other sounds that you can’t hear
- Frequent misunderstandings
- Turning the volume way up on the TV
- Sudden trouble with work, hobbies, or school
- Not hearing important sounds, like the doorbell, washer buzzer, or someone calling their name
Watch for for these common symptoms and plan on having a heart-to-heart conversation with your loved one.
How to Talk About Hearing Loss
Having this discussion may not be easy. A spouse in denial may brush it off or become defensive. That’s why it’s essential to approach hearing loss appropriately. The steps will be the basically same although you might need to modify your language based on your distinct relationship.
Step 1: Tell them you love them unconditionally and value your relationship.
Step 2: You’re concerned about their health. You’ve done the research. You’re aware of the higher 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. Your hearing can be harmed by excessively loud volumes on the TV and other devices. In addition, research has shown that loud noise can create anxiety, which might impact your relationship. 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. Simply listing facts won’t be as effective as painting an emotional picture of the possible consequences.
Step 4: Come to an understanding that it’s time for a hearing exam. Do it immediately after making the decision. Don’t procrastinate.
Step 5: Be ready for your loved ones to have some objections. At any time during the process, they could have these objections. This is someone you know well. What obstacles will they find? Costs? Time? Do they not acknowledge a problem? Do they think they can utilize homemade remedies? Be aware that these natural remedies don’t improve hearing loss and can actually do more harm.
Be prepared with your responses. Maybe you practice them beforehand. You should speak to your loved one’s concerns but you don’t need to use this exact plan word-for-word.
Grow Your Relationship
Talking about hearing loss isn’t easy if your loved one isn’t willing to consider it. But by having this conversation, you’ll grow closer and get your loved one the help they need to live a longer, healthier, more satisfying life. Isn’t love all about growing closer?