We say it a lot, but that’s because it’s true and important—Hearing Loss Interferes With Your Relationships! If you or a loved one has been living with hearing loss for any amount of time, you’re probably already aware of this. Relationships are built on communication, and even mild hearing loss can make communication very difficult to accomplish. In short order, day-to-day communication can break down and leave couples feeling distant and lonely.
Hearing Loss Robs Us of Intimacy
It’s not just that hearing loss makes it difficult to communicate the “important” things. Intimacy is built on hundreds of seemingly unimportant exchanges throughout the course of a day. Studies have found that both hearing-impaired participants and their partners feel a sense of loss when hearing loss takes away the spontaneity and small talk of daily life.
You see, when hearing loss comes into the picture, we learn quickly that any communication is going to be more difficult than it used to be. Soon, we start to gauge whether something is “important” enough to warrant the effort it takes to communicate it. Once this happens, it’s safe to say that the quality of our relationship has been dramatically affected.
Hearing Loss Is Difficult to Understand
Even in partnerships where the hearing-impaired partner felt supported by the other, they still noted a lack of understanding when it came to certain aspects of how hearing loss affected them. For example, normal-hearing partners might struggle to understand how background noise can drastically reduce speech intelligibility, or how trying to hear speech at a larger gathering can be so exhausting.
Both partners can become frustrated when hearing loss affects their plans, and this can lead to acrimony and greater distancing. Indeed, a British survey conducted by the hearing aid retailer HearingDirect.com found that about one-third of couples reported that hearing loss had led to arguments between them. Some even claimed that it was responsible for a divorce!
Common Problems Couples Experience With Hearing Loss
Some common effects of hearing loss on relationships include:
- Frustration – Plans get made around hearing needs, speech must be repeated, misunderstandings.
- Resentment – Hearing partner feels they are forced to compensate for the other’s hearing loss (for example, by acting as de facto translator), hearing-impaired partner feels misunderstood and fatigued.
- Loneliness – Both partners miss companionship.
- Less social activity – Social activity becomes unpleasant and exhausting for the hearing-impaired partner, so more invitations are declined.
- Less intimate talk, joking.
- Fewer shared activities – Hearing impairment makes it impossible for the hearing-impaired partner to participate.
More Relationships, As Well
It’s not just partnerships that suffer. Friendships may fall by the wayside. Family gatherings become more difficult to participate in, and it may be especially difficult to hear the more high-pitched voices of young grandchildren. These relationships may suffer for years on end, which is especially unfortunate when it comes to grandchildren. A year seems like a very long time to small kids!
Hearing loss poses its greatest challenges in larger groups and in public spaces. All the relationships that we tend primarily in these environments are the first to suffer, and unfortunately they may be harder to get back once we take the steps to address our hearing issues.
Hearing Aids Can Help
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way. Couples frequently report great satisfaction with the way hearing aids have restored their ability to communicate freely. Modern hearing aids are better than ever, and can distinguish between speech and background noise. They can actually suppress background noise while amplifying speech. In some situations, this can increase speech intelligibility to better than normal hearing!
Hearing aids help out with video conferencing and phone calls, as well. Telecoils or wireless Bluetooth connectivity allow you to hear the audio from a smartphone or other Bluetooth-enabled device (such as a computer or tablet) directly in your hearing aids. You can easily stay in touch with distant family members, and hear them in crisp detail once again!
Wireless microphones, a popular add-on, help you navigate public spaces together. Simply clip the wireless mic onto the hearing partner’s clothing, and their voice will be transmitted directly into the hearing-impaired partner’s hearing aids! You’ll never get separated and have to track each other down again.
If you or a loved one is ready to explore what hearing aids have to offer, make an appointment for a hearing test today and get your relationships back on track!