Helen Keller once said, “Blindness cuts us off from things, but deafness cuts us off from people.”
The impact of hearing loss on personal relationships can be huge. Although typically considered to be a personal problem, the experience of hearing loss is shared and managed by both the person with hearing loss and those closest to them.
Here we take a look at how untreated hearing loss can complicate key relationships, and what can be done to minimise potential damage.
Partners play an extremely important part in making people aware of their hearing loss. They are often the first to notice a decline in hearing ability , and also the first to offer support and encourage their partner to seek help.
However, romantic relationships rely on the ability to communicate above all else. For people who are hard of hearing and their partners, hearing loss can make even the simplest discussion difficult and frustrating for both parties. Frequent misunderstandings and ineffective communication can lead to a strained relationship dynamic. While the partner with hearing loss can feel bullied and defensive about their condition, their spouse might feel sad and ignored.
“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,” audiologist Patricia Chute told The ASHA Leader magazine.
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for people with untreated hearing loss to experience social isolation. Socialising in groups can be overwhelming for people who are hard of hearing, with conversations being near impossible to follow. Even talking one-on-one to a good friend can be hard if the friend doesn’t understand the specific communication needs of hard of hearing people.
Eventually, it often becomes too stressful for those who are hard of hearing to socialise. Friends, although well intentioned, can be less patient when it comes to misunderstandings and the need to repeat themselves sometimes.
Not being able to communicate with grandchildren is one of the most common motivators for people to do something about their hearing loss. The bond between a child and their grandparents is a very special one and communication is key to building these relationships.
Additionally, it is also crucial that hard of hearing grandparents are able to hear what their grandchildren are doing when they’re in their care. If not, there is the potential for tragedy. Hearing aids in this case are a must!
Communication is key to forming successful
relationships at work. Left untreated, hearing loss can cause an individual to miss important conversation cues and directions from superiors and colleagues. In meetings, it could be difficult to follow discussion when more than one person is talking at the same time, and workmates might get the wrong impression and think they’re being ignored.
To prevent hearing loss from putting strain on relationships, consider these tips:
Book an appointment with a hearing clinician as soon as you realise you might have a hearing problem. Being in denial will only cause tension with loved ones.
Bring your partner or another trusted family member along to appointments with your audiologist. This will help loved ones understand the nature of hearing loss and how to help.
Rather than getting frustrated with your family and friends, educate them on your new communication needs.
Remember that communication is a two way street! Your family must learn to accommodate your hearing needs, but you must also do your bit and look into hearing solutions, such as hearing aids!