Woman and man cuddling on a park bench after getting hearing aids to improve their relationship.

You care deeply about your loved ones and want to do something to let them know? Really listen when your loved ones talk to you. But you have to be able to hear in order to really listen.

Research demonstrates one out of three adults between the ages of 65 and 74 is suffering from hearing loss and millions would benefit from wearing a hearing aid. Regrettably, only around 30% of these individuals 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 just suffer in silence.

But it’s almost springtime. It’s a time for emerging leaves, flowers, new beginnings, and growing closer. Talking openly about hearing loss can be a superb way to renew relationships.

It’s Necessary to Have “The Talk”

Studies have observed that an individual with neglected hearing loss is 2.4 times more likely to develop dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. A cascade effect that eventually affects the entire brain can be initiated when there’s reduced activity in the part of your brain responsible for hearing. This is referred to as “brain atrophy” by doctors. It’s an example of the “use it or lose it” concept at work.

Depression rates among those with hearing loss are almost twice that of a person with healthy hearing. Research demonstrates that as a person’s hearing loss gets worse, they often become anxious and agitated. The person might start to seclude themselves from family and friends. They’re likely to fall deeper into melancholy as they stop participating in activities once loved.

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 might not feel that they can talk to you about their hearing problems. Fear or embarrassment could be an issue for them. They might be in denial. You may need to do a little detective work to determine when it’s time to have the conversation.

Because it’s not possible for you to directly know how bad your spouse’s hearing loss is, you may have to rely on some of the following indicators:

  • Avoiding conversations
  • Avoiding busy places
  • New levels of anxiety in social settings
  • Watching TV with the volume really high
  • Misunderstanding situations more often
  • Complaining about ringing, humming, static, or other noises that you don’t hear
  • School, hobbies, and work are suddenly becoming harder
  • Not hearing important sounds, like the doorbell, washer buzzer, or somebody calling their name

Plan to have a heart-to-heart talk with your loved one if you notice any of these common signs.

The Hearing Loss Talk – Here’s How

It might be difficult to have this talk. A companion in denial might brush it off or become defensive. That’s why it’s essential to approach hearing loss properly. You may need to adjust your language based on your unique relationship, but the steps will be more or less the same.

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 increased dementia risk and depression that accompany neglected hearing loss. You don’t want your loved one to go through that.

Step 3: You’re also worried about your own health and safety. Your hearing can be damaged by excessively high volumes on the TV and other devices. Relationships can also be impacted by the anxiety loud noises can cause, according to some studies. If someone has broken into your home, or you call out for help, your loved one may not hear you.

Emotion is an essential part of effective communication. Simply listing facts won’t be as impactful as painting an emotional picture of the possible consequences.

Step 4: Come to an agreement that it’s time for a hearing exam. Do it right away after making the decision. Don’t wait.

Step 5: Be ready for objections. At any time in the process, they may have these objections. This is somebody you know well. What will their objections be? Money? Time? Do they not acknowledge a problem? Are they thinking about trying out home remedies? Be aware that these natural remedies don’t help hearing loss and can actually do more harm.

Prepare your counter replies. You may even practice them in the mirror. They don’t have to be those listed above word-for-word, but they should speak to your loved one’s concerns.

Grow Your Relationship

If your loved one is unwilling to talk, it can be a tough situation. 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. Growing together – isn’t that what love is all about?

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