Want to show how much you care? Listen to your loved ones, really listen. 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 enduring hearing loss and millions would benefit from using a hearing aid. Regrettably, only about 30% of these individuals actually use their hearing aids.
Neglecting your hearing loss leads to problems hearing, along with increased dementia rates, depression, and stressed relationships. Many people coping with hearing loss simply suffer in silence.
But spring is almost here. Spring should be a time when we enjoy blossoming flowers, emerging foliage, starting new things, and getting closer to loved ones. Talking openly about hearing loss can be a good way to renew relationships.
Having “The Talk” is Important
Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, is 2.4 times more likely in people who have untreated hearing loss according to many studies. When the part of your brain used for hearing becomes less active, it can initiate a cascade effect that can affect your entire brain. This is referred to as “brain atrophy” by doctors. It’s an example of the “use it or lose it” principle at work.
Individuals with hearing loss have almost two times as many instances of depression than people who have healthy hearing. People who have deteriorating hearing loss, according to research, frequently experience agitation and anxiety. The individual might start to isolate themselves from family and friends. They’re prone to stop including themselves in the activities they once enjoyed as they fall deeper into a state of depression.
This, in turn, can result in relationship strain among spouses, but also between parent and child, close friends, and other people in this person’s life.
Solving The Puzzle
Your loved one may not be ready to reveal that they are developing hearing loss. They might be nervous or embarrassed. They could be in denial. You may need to do some detective work to determine when it’s time to initiate the conversation.
Since you are unable to hear what your loved one hears, you’ll have to depend on external cues, such as:
- Turning the volume way up on the TV
- Recurring misunderstandings
- Ringing, buzzing, and other sounds that no one else hears
- essential sounds, like someone calling their name, a doorbell, or a warning alarm are often missed
- Avoiding conversations
- Irritation or anxiousness in social settings that you haven’t previously noticed
- Staying away from busy places
- Sudden trouble with work, hobbies, or school
Plan on having a heart-to-heart conversation with your loved one if you notice any of these common symptoms.
The Hearing Loss Talk – Here’s How
It may be difficult to have this conversation. A companion in denial might brush it off or become defensive. That’s why approaching hearing loss in the proper manner is so important. You may need to adjust your language based on your individual relationship, but the steps will be the same for the most part.
Step 1: Let them know that you love them unconditionally and value your relationship.
Step 2: Their health is important to you and you’re worried. You’ve gone over the studies. 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: Your own health and safety are also a concern. An overly loud television could harm your hearing. Relationships can also be effected by the anxiety loud noises can cause, according to some research. Your loved one may not hear you yelling for help if you’ve fallen down or someone’s broken into the house.
Emotion is a key part of strong communication. If you can paint an emotional picture of the what-ifs, it’s more effective than just listing facts.
Step 4: Come to an understanding that it’s time for a hearing assessment. Do it right away after making the decision. Don’t wait.
Step 5: Be ready for objections. At any time in the process, they could have these objections. This is someone you know well. What obstacles will they find? Money? 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 cause more harm than good.
Be ready with your responses. Maybe you practice them beforehand. You should address your loved one’s doubts but you don’t need to follow 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 talk, you’ll grow closer and get your loved one the help they need to live a longer, healthier, more fulfilling life. Isn’t love all about growing closer?