Want to show how much you care? Really listen when your loved ones talk to you. That requires, of course, the ability to hear.
Research reveals one in three adults between 65 and 74 is experiencing hearing loss and millions would benefit from wearing a hearing aid. Regrettably, only about 30% of these individuals actually wear their hearing aids.
This inaction results in trouble hearing, along with higher dementia rates, depression, and strained relationships. Suffering in silence is how many individuals endure their hearing loss.
But it’s nearly springtime. It’s a time for emerging leaves, flowers, new beginnings, and growing closer. Talking openly about hearing loss can be a great way to renew relationships.
It’s Important to Have “The Talk”
Studies have observed that an individual with untreated hearing loss is 2.4 times more likely to develop dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. When the region of your brain responsible for hearing becomes less engaged, it can start a cascade effect that can affect your entire brain. This is referred to as “brain atrophy” by doctors. It’s the “use it or lose it” concept in action.
Individuals with hearing loss have nearly two times as many cases of depression than individuals who have normal hearing. Research shows that as a person’s hearing loss worsens, they often become stressed and agitated. Isolation from family and friends is often the result. They’re likely to fall deeper into depression as they stop participating in activities once loved.
This, in turn, can lead to strained relationships amongst spouses, but also between parent and child, close friends, and other people in this person’s life.
Solving The Puzzle
Your loved one might not be ready to tell you that they are developing hearing loss. They may be afraid or ashamed. They may be in denial. You might need to do some detective work to determine when it’s time to have the conversation.
Since you are unable to hear what your spouse or parent hears, you’ll have to depend on outward cues, such as:
- Staying away from conversations
- Recurring misunderstandings
- Agitation or anxiousness in social situations that you haven’t previously noticed
- Steering clear of places with lots of activity and people
- Turning the volume way up on the TV
- Ringing, buzzing, and other noises that no one else hears
- Sudden trouble with work, hobbies, or school
- Not hearing imperative sounds, like the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or someone calling their name
Plan on having a heart-to-heart talk with your loved one if you observe any of these common symptoms.
How to Talk About Hearing Loss
Having this discussion might not be easy. A partner in denial might brush it off or become defensive. That’s why approaching hearing loss in the proper manner is so significant. The steps will be the basically same even though you may have to modify your language based on your individual relationship.
Step 1: Make them understand that you value your relationship and have unconditional love for them.
Step 2: You’re worried about their health. You’ve done the research. You know that untreated hearing loss can cause an elevated chance of depression and dementia. That’s not what you want for your loved one.
Step 3: Your own health and safety are also a concern. An excessively loud TV could damage your hearing. Additionally, studies show that elevated noise can create anxiety, which may effect your relationship. If someone has broken into your home, or you call out for help, your loved one might not hear you.
Emotion is an essential part of robust communication. If you can paint an emotional picture of the what-ifs, it’s more effective than merely listing facts.
Step 4: Come to an agreement that it’s time for a hearing test. After deciding, make the appointment immediately. Don’t procrastinate.
Step 5: Be prepared for objections. These might occur anywhere in the process. This is someone you know well. What issues will they find? Costs? Time? Do they not admit to a problem? Are they considering trying home remedies? You recognize “natural hearing loss cures” don’t actually work and could cause more harm than good.
Be prepared with your responses. You could even practice them in the mirror. They don’t have to match those listed above word-for-word, but they should address your loved one’s concerns.
Grow Your Relationship
Talking about hearing loss isn’t easy if your significant other isn’t willing to consider it. But you’ll get your loved one the assistance they need to live a long healthy life and grow closer by having this discussion. Growing closer – isn’t that what love is all about?