Your Relationships Don’t Need to be Negatively Impacted by Hearing loss

Cropped shot of two unrecognizable people holding hands discussing hearing loss with compassion.

It’s something a lot of individuals cope with, but few want to talk about – hearing loss and its effect on personal relationships. Hearing loss can create communication barriers that lead to misunderstandings and aggravation for both partners.
This is the perfect time for you to express your love and appreciation for your loved one with Valentine’s Day just around the corner. Discussing hearing loss together is an ideal way to do this.

Having “the talk”

Studies have found that a person with untreated hearing loss is 2.4 times more likely to experience dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. When the part of your brain responsible for hearing becomes less active, it can begin a cascade effect that can impact 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 are almost half in individuals who have healthy hearing compared to people who have hearing loss. People often become stressed and agitated as their hearing loss progresses according to research. This can result in the person being self isolated from friends and family. As they fall deeper into depression, people with hearing loss are likely to stop participating in the activities they once enjoyed.

This, as a result, can lead to relationship strain among mother and son, daughter and father, close friends, spouses, and others in this person’s life. It’s essential to be patient and work together to determine solutions to communication challenges.

Mystery solved

Somebody who is experiencing hearing loss may not be ready to discuss it. They might feel shame and fear. They may be in denial. You may need to do some detective work to figure out when it’s time to have the conversation.

Since you can’t hear what your partner or parent hears, you’ll need to rely on external clues, such as:

  • Complaining about ringing, humming, static, or other noises that you can’t hear
  • Avoiding conversations
  • Agitation or anxiety in social settings that you haven’t previously observed
  • Sudden difficulty with work, hobbies, or school
  • Avoiding busy places
  • Not hearing vital sounds, such as the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or someone calling their name
  • Turning the volume way up on your TV
  • Repeated misunderstandings

Look 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 partner in denial might brush it off or become defensive. That’s why it’s crucial to approach hearing loss in a sensitive and appropriate way. You may need to modify your language based on your unique relationship, but the strategies will be basically the same.

  • Step 1: Inform them how much you love them without condition and how much you value your relationship.
  • Step 2: The state of their health is very important to you. You’ve read the studies. You’re aware that untreated hearing loss can lead to an increased risk of depression and dementia. You don’t want your loved one to deal with that.
  • Step 3: You’re also worried about your own safety and health. Your hearing could be harmed by an overly loud TV. Also, your relationship can be affected, as studies have shown that overly loud noise can cause anxiety. If you have an intruder in your house or you’ve taken a fall, your partner may not hear you yelling for help. People connect with others through emotion. If you can paint an emotional picture of the what-ifs, it’s more impactful than simply listing facts.
  • Step 4: Decide together to make an appointment to get a hearing exam. Do it right away after making the decision. Don’t wait.
  • Step 5: There may be some opposition so be ready. These could happen at any time in the process. You know this person. What will their objections be? Money? Time? Doesn’t see a problem? Do they think they can utilize do-it-yourself methods? (“Natural hearing loss cures” are not effective and can even be harmful.)

Have your answers prepared beforehand. You might even practice them in the mirror. These answers need to address your loved one’s Worries but they don’t need to match those listed above word-for-word

Relationship growth

If your spouse isn’t willing to talk about their hearing loss, it can be challenging. Developing a plan to tackle potential communication challenges and the effect hearing loss can have on your relationship will help both partners have confidence that their concerns will be heard and understood. In this way, your relationship will grow stronger and your partner will take steps to live a longer, healthier life. And relationships are, after all, about growing together.


The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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