Want to show how much you care? Truly listen when your loved ones talk to you. That requires, of course, the ability to hear.
According to research, millions of people would benefit from using hearing aids because one in three adults between the ages of 65 and 74 have some amount of hearing loss. But only 30% of those people actually use hearing aids, unfortunately.
Neglecting your hearing loss results in problems hearing, as well as higher dementia rates, depression, and strained relationships. Many individuals experiencing hearing loss simply suffer in silence.
But spring is right around the corner. It’s a time for emerging leaves, flowers, new beginnings, and growing closer. Talking candidly about hearing loss can be a great way to renew relationships.
It’s Important to Have “The Talk”
Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, is 2.4 times more likely in individuals who have untreated hearing loss according to several studies. When the part 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” principle in action.
Depression cases among those with hearing loss are nearly twice that of someone with healthy hearing. Individuals with worsening hearing loss, according to research, often experience agitation and anxiety. The individual might begin to isolate themselves from friends and family. They’re likely to stop including themselves in the activities they once enjoyed as they sink deeper into a state of depression.
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 Mystery
Your loved one may not be ready to tell you that they are suffering from hearing loss. Fear or embarrassment could be a problem for them. They may be in denial. You may need to do some detective work to decide when it’s time to initiate the conversation.
Since you are unable to hear what your spouse or parent hears, you’ll have to use outward cues, including:
- Irritation or anxiety in social situations that you haven’t previously noticed
- Misunderstanding situations more often
- Cranking the volume way up on the TV
- Staying away from conversations
- Steering clear of settings with lots of activity and people
- School, hobbies, and work are suddenly becoming harder
- Ringing, buzzing, and other noises that no one else hears
- Important sounds, like somebody calling their name, a doorbell, or a warning alarm are often missed
Watch for for these common symptoms and plan to have a heart-to-heart talk with your loved one.
How to Talk About Hearing Loss
Having this conversation might not be easy. A spouse in denial might brush it off or become defensive. That’s why it’s important to approach hearing loss appropriately. You might need to modify your language based on your individual relationship, but the steps will be the same for the most part.
Step 1: Make them aware that you appreciate your relationship and have unconditional love for them.
Step 2: Their health is important to you and you’re concerned. You’ve gone over the studies. You’re aware of the higher dementia risk and depression that come with neglected hearing loss. You don’t want that for your loved one.
Step 3: You’re also concerned about your own health and safety. An overly loud TV could damage your hearing. Additionally, research has shown that elevated noise can cause anxiety, which may effect your relationship. If somebody has broken into your house, or you call out for help, your loved one might not hear you.
Emotion is a key part of robust communication. If you can paint an emotional picture of the what-ifs, it’s more impactful than just listing facts.
Step 4: Agree together to schedule an appointment to have a hearing exam. Do it right away after making the decision. Don’t wait.
Step 5: Be ready for objections. These could occur anytime during the process. This is someone you know well. What problems will they find? Money? Time? Do they not see a problem? Are they considering trying out home remedies? You understand “natural hearing loss cures” don’t actually work and could do more harm than good.
Prepare your counter responses. Perhaps you rehearse them ahead of time. You should address your loved one’s doubts but you don’t have to follow this exact plan word-for-word.
Grow Your Relationship
If your loved one is unwilling to talk, it can be a tricky situation. But by having this conversation, you’ll grow closer and get your loved one the help they need to live a longer, healthier, more fulfilling life. Growing closer – isn’t that what love is all about?