How Hearing Loss Interferes with Your Relationships

How Hearing Loss Interferes with Your Relationships

Robert Weissman, Au.D., B.C.A., CCC-AUncategorized

Robert Weissman, Au.D., B.C.A., CCC-A

People tend to wait an average of seven years from the time they notice hearing loss to the time they seek treatment for it. They might say it’s “not that bad,” or that they’re getting along okay without hearing aids. Unfortunately, this is rarely if ever true. For those who have spent most of their lives with the ability to hear, losing even some portion of it comes with a host of negative consequences, many of which could not be foreseen.

Perhaps most significant among these is the risk of damage to relationships with other people. This is also one of the first things we might notice when hearing loss starts to affect us. Asking our friends and loved ones to repeat themselves over and over can become frustrating to them. Likewise, they might be unaware how difficult things are becoming for us. Hearing loss is fatiguing, and we might soon be spending less time, less often with the people who are important to us.

Those Closest to Us Suffer the Most

Not surprisingly, those who we spend the most time with, usually our partners and other family members, will be the ones to show the most frustration. It’s a good idea to listen to them if they’re suggesting that you need hearing aids: we might have friends and acquaintances who won’t be so forward, and simply stop inviting us out with them.

The Blame Game

Communication can break down in our partnerships more than we might think. Even if our partner knows about our hearing loss, it’s common to slip into blaming one another for the common miscommunications that hearing loss can cause. What is truly an inability to hear is often misunderstood as a failure to listen.

Hearing Loss Can Take Over Your Life

In a British study from 2009, 44% of respondents said that hearing loss had caused their relationships to suffer. It’s not hard to imagine. And as hearing loss increases over time, more and more of your life will start to revolve around it. As conversation becomes more difficult, it will subside into simple directives, shouted forcefully. The places you go will be chosen for the acoustics of the environment. The volume of the television will be a problem. And of course, everywhere you go, you’ll need to leave earlier. Your hearing loss will become a serious impediment to not only your quality of life, but your spouse’s as well.

Even Small Communications are Important

The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) says that hearing loss affects over 48 million Americans today. Unfortunately, only about 16% of those people wear hearing aids. For those who wait until their hearing loss is undeniably a problem before they get hearing aids, years can go by while subtle changes occur in the brain and in relationships. It’s not only the most important communications that we need to get by: intimacy is strengthened by all those little jokes and seemingly “insignificant” chatterings. The loss of this communication can be devastating.

Learning to Not Listen

Most people also find themselves getting into the bad habit of not listening when they suffer from hearing loss. When it’s difficult to hear, we start saving our energy by not even trying to listen. Most of us fall into this habit unconsciously, and it is hard to break even after we get hearing aids and have the ability to hear speech again. What’s more, once we stop listening, our brains start to atrophy in the speech centers, meaning we basically have to learn to understand speech again once we get hearing aids. This takes time, and increases the duration of the adjustment period. Some people find it too taxing and give up, slipping further into social isolation.

The sooner we get our hearing tested and start wearing hearing aids, the less interruption our hearing loss will cause in our lives. Indeed, around 85% of people today report being satisfied with their hearing aids. With so much at stake, don’t let your social life slip away while you stay on the fence about hearing aids. Get your ears tested today and see what they can do for you so life can go on in the best way possible.