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How Untreated Hearing Loss Interferes with Your Relationships

You may have suspected you have some degree of hearing loss for years, but never thought it was serious enough to act upon. This is all too common- in fact on average it takes people seven to ten years to take action around hearing loss and can lead to disastrous complications which are often hard to reverse. One of the most common and significant impacts doesn’t just affect you either, but everyone in your life. Communication is the cornerstone of relationships and one of the keyways in which we communicate is by listening and being able to respond. When hearing loss goes untreated for years it can impact on your relationships, between friends, family, co-workers and even your significant other!

The strain hearing loss causes on relationships

Hearing loss often starts slowly and gradually becomes worse over time. This nature makes it difficult to self-diagnose. However, though you may not be aware of the source, it is still common to experience its impact. When we struggle to hear it can make it difficult to respond in a timely manner to those at home and at work.

“Studies show that hearing loss produces feelings of frustration, embarrassment, and distress for the partner and for the relationship in general,” explained researchers who conducted a qualitative study of couples in which at least one partner had some degree of hearing loss.

The researchers reported that in most cases “both the hearing-impaired participants and their close partners bemoaned the loss of spontaneity and the difficulties of sharing small, unexpected incidents, observations and small talk in their everyday interactions.” 

The cornerstone to a healthy relationship

It’s just not important high energy conversations which bond us to others. For couples it’s the banter, inside jokes and tiny nothings which build and contribute to feelings of comfort and intimacy. It’s the ability to discuss little things daily as much as logistics and even concepts. When these tiny moments of communication break down, frustration creeps in it’s place, leading to resentment, and a further breakdown of intimacy. Both you and your partner may feel alone and estranged due to an unaddressed hearing issue.

“All too often spouses blame each other’s ability to listen when in fact it is truly a hearing problem that is chipping away at their ability to communicate,” explains audiologist Patricia Chute, professor and chair of the Division of Health Professions at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.

Tips for talking your partner about hearing loss

Living with someone who can’t hear can be alienating and overall, very frustrating. Sure, you want to be patient but you may feel as though they are uninterested in what you have to say. Their attention span may be shorter, and they may seem constantly distracted. In truth these are common misconceptions people make for those who are struggling to hear.

Look for signs of hearing loss: If they constantly ask you to repeat yourself, turn up the volume on the television to an uncomfortable level, or have trouble hearing the telephone, microwave, or doorbell chime, it’s a clear sign that they may actually have a hearing loss which could be improved significantly with the use of hearing aids. These tiny electronic devices not only can be amplified to enhance the specific sounds they struggle with based on a hearing exam but can be the treatment which helps you start to connect again like you used to.

If you suspect that your partner has a hearing loss, don’t wait to address when you are at your end’s rope. All too often people avoid hearing loss because they are in denial or they fear that admitting they have a loss will show their age. These days people of all ages, more than ever before, struggle with permanent hearing loss and while there is no cure, treatment will make a significant improvement in quality of life and ability for you to communicate with added clarity. Here are a few tips to make the process go more smooth and get the desired result.

  • Let them know that you feel it is affecting your relationship. Use “I” statements rather than accusing them, to let them know it’s affecting not just them.
  • Do your research ahead of time. Many people don’t understand just how serious unaddressed hearing loss can be. Aside from an impact on relationships, hearing loss can affect your ability to succeed at work, cause emotional distress, contribute to cognitive decline and increase the risk of dangerous falls! To find out more contact us and encourage your loved one to visit us for a hearing exam! Contact us today!