How Treating Hearing Loss Improves Your Relationships

How Treating Hearing Loss Improves Your Relationships

Hearing loss affects about one-third of people aged 65–75 and nearly half of those over age 75. Despite the prevalence of hearing loss, only about one in five people who would benefit from hearing aids actually wears them, and it takes us an average of seven years from the time we notice hearing loss to the time we schedule an appointment for a hearing test with a hearing care professional.

So many other medical concerns, whether age-related or not, are treated more seriously than hearing loss, but this may be changing. 

First, improved hearing means a healthier life: In an article published by The Lancet Commission in July of 2017 by Frankish & Horton, 9 factors to consider to reduce your risk of dementia were presented, and improved hearing was first on the list. The World Health Organization ranked hearing loss as the number one modifiable risk factor in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.  

Second, wearing ear devices in our culture is much more common and accepted: the advent of all forms of earpods connecting to our digital communication devices and the popularity and breadth are quickly removing the stigmas associated with hearing a hearing device Finally, hearing devices have also come a long way in terms of their capability, comfort, and stylishness. 

There has never been a better time to start improving your hearing!

Hearing Loss Can Strain Relationships

It may come as no surprise that hearing loss, when left untreated, puts up a major barrier to contentment in our relationships. Whether it’s your relationship with a friend, coworker, family member, or partner, hearing loss will make it more difficult to communicate. This difficulty may be accepted at first, but over time the frustration tends to result in friction, inefficiencies, and even arguments and/or distance in the relationships.

In addition, people with hearing loss tend to avoid social situations. The more people and the more background noise, the harder it is to focus on what another person is saying. Those with untreated hearing loss will tend to avoid larger gatherings, going out to restaurants, and may avoid going out in public altogether. In fact, those with untreated hearing loss tend to be less physically active than those with normal hearing or hearing aids, as even moving around one’s own home can be more disorienting when hearing loss is a factor.

At work, coworkers will choose to interact with someone who can hear them. Communication is essential when working within a system of various people and because of the pressures for performance, coworkers will choose the paths of least resistance.  

At home, communication will be reduced to only the most necessary interactions. The joy of communicating about the hundreds of things we see or encounter in a day will evaporate when things must be repeated over and over or are never understood at all. What we call “small talk” makes up a big part of our overall intimacy with another person, and as it gets harder and harder to share with one another, it will decline.

Hearing loss doesn’t only affect the person who has hearing loss, but also those who are closest to them. Partners or close relatives become frustrated at having to serve as an “extra set of ears” while out in public. And the breakdown of intimacy can be disastrous. In surveys, many people with hearing loss have felt that their marriage or partnership was in danger of ending before getting hearing aids, and some attributed their breakups directly to their untreated hearing loss. Imagine being the partner of someone who doesn’t want to go out anymore, causing them to feel isolated and lonely—like they are a prisoner of their partner’s hearing loss. In addition to the feeling of loss due to the reduction of meaningful conversation, resentment can start to build when one person’s hearing loss affects the other’s lifestyle.

Hearing Aids Can Help

Fortunately, hearing loss does not have to doom our relationships. A high-quality pair set of hearing aids can prevent many of these problems from becoming an issue. Hearing aids help reduce miscommunication, lower tension, avoid frustration, and generally help us stay more in tune with one another.

The Better Hearing Institute, a non-profit organization, recommends getting a hearing test once every decade until age 50, and once every three years after that. Those in high-risk professions or with a medical history indicating a higher risk of hearing loss should be tested more frequently.

Regular hearing tests are an important part of maintaining our best health and well-being. By getting regular hearing tests, we can identify hearing loss as soon as it becomes an issue. Those who start wearing hearing aids as soon as they are recommended by a hearing care professional have a much easier time adjusting to them and spend less time living with the loss of one of our most important senses.  

If you or a loved one has been having hearing issues, or if you’re simply due for a hearing test, make an appointment and take that important step towards improving your hearing health!

Kenneth H. Wood, BC-HIS

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With so many myths and misinformation about hearing loss and hearing care, it’s often the unknowns or confusion that holds us back from making the right decisions.

That’s why we have a hearing care expert available to help.

If you have a question, or would like to speak to a professional privately about the challenges that you may be facing, then simply request a callback and we’ll call you for a friendly no-obligation conversation.