Your Relationships Don’t Have to be Negatively Affected by Hearing loss

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

Most people don’t want to talk about the impact hearing loss has on relationships, even though it’s an issue many people deal with. Both partners can feel aggravated by the misunderstandings that are caused by hearing loss.
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner isn’t it a great time to express your love and appreciation for your loved one? Talking about hearing loss together is a great way to do this.

Having “the talk”

Studies have found that a person with neglected hearing loss is 2.4 times more likely to develop dementia, and that includes Alzheimer’s disease. When the part of your brain used for hearing becomes less engaged, it can start a cascade effect that can affect your entire brain. This is called brain atrophy by doctors. You know how the old saying goes, “use it or lose it”.

Depression numbers among individuals with hearing loss are nearly double that of a person who has healthy hearing. Research shows that as a person’s hearing loss worsens, they often become anxious and agitated. This can lead to the person being self isolated from family and friends. As they sink deeper into depression, people with hearing loss are likely to avoid taking part in the activities they once enjoyed.

Relationships between family, friends, and others then become strained. Communication problems need to be managed with patients and compassion.

Mystery solved

Your loved one might not be ready to tell you they’re 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 can’t hear what your spouse or parent hears, you’ll have to depend on outward cues, like:

  • Avoiding conversations
  • Frequent misunderstandings
  • Not hearing important sounds, like the doorbell, dryer buzzer, or someone calling their name
  • Complaining about ringing, humming, static, or other noises that you don’t hear
  • Starting to notice anxiety and agitation in social situations
  • Avoiding busy places
  • Sudden difficulty with work, hobbies, or school
  • Cranking the volume way up on your TV

Watch for these common symptoms and plan to have a heart-to-heart conversation with your loved one.

How to talk about hearing loss

Having this talk may not be easy. A loved one could become defensive and brush it off if they’re in denial. That’s why discussing hearing loss in an appropriate manner is so relevant. The steps will be essentially the same but maybe with some slight alterations based on your particular relationship situation.

  • Step 1: Tell them how much you love them unconditionally and how much you value your relationship.
  • Step 2: The state of their health is important to you. You’ve read the studies. You’re aware that a higher risk of depression and dementia comes along with untreated hearing loss. That’s not what you want for your loved one.
  • Step 3: You’re also worried about your own health and safety. Your hearing may be harmed by an overly loud TV. Also, your relationship can be affected, as studies have shown that overly loud noise can trigger anxiety. Your loved one may not hear you yelling for help if you have a fall or somebody’s broken into the house. Emotion is a strong way to connect with others. If you can paint an emotional picture of the what-ifs, it will have more impact than just listing facts.
  • Step 4: Agree together to schedule an appointment to get a hearing test. After you make the decision schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Don’t hold off.
  • Step 5: Be ready for opposition. These could happen anywhere in the process. This is a person you know well. What kind of objections will they have? Will it be lack of time, or money? Perhaps they don’t see that it’s a problem. They might feel that homemade remedies will be good enough. (“Natural hearing loss cures” aren’t effective and can even be harmful.)

Be ready with your answers. Even a little rehearsal can’t hurt. They don’t have to match those listed above word-for-word, but they should address your loved one’s concerns.

Relationship growth

Talking about hearing loss isn’t easy if your partner doesn’t want to discuss it. Establishing a plan to deal with potential communication problems and the impact hearing loss can have on your relationship will help both partners have confidence that their worries will be heard and understood. In this way, your relationship will grow stronger and your loved one will take measures to live a longer, healthier life. Growing together – isn’t that what love is all about?


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.