Latest posts by Paula Castanon (see all)
- How Treating Hearing Loss Improves Your Relationships - February 18, 2020
- Earbud Use Could Harm Your Hearing - January 31, 2020
- Hearing Loss and Listening Fatigue - January 24, 2020
Our senses allow us to engage and perceive the world around us. We rely on them to communicate, interact with others and engage in activities that form the foundation of a life well-lived. As social animals, we know that our relationships on every level impact the quality of our lives. We need to bond with others, to work well and enjoy the sights and sounds that create rich experiences. We constantly work at sustaining a balance between our physical health, emotional well-being and work. What does our hearing health have to do with the maintenance of our overall health, wealth and happiness?
Our basic need to communicate relies heavily upon our hearing. The sense of hearing facilitates many important decisions and affects our relationships to others and our surrounding.
From the time of our birth we rely upon our sense of hearing to alert us to the sounds of our closest ones and to depend upon them for nurturance and guidance. As we age our relationships with others, whether they be professional, familial or purely social, form intricate and complex structures impacted by our ability to hear.
Currently there are close to 50 million people in the United States that are in need of hearing implements and without treatment are putting their relationships in jeopardy!
Unfortunately, as we age our hearing is also impacted and it is up to us to keep our hearing as healthy as possible.
How does hearing loss affect our relationships negatively? First and foremost, hearing loss will almost always be noticed by those closest to us. Hearing loss ripples through effective communication between you and your loved ones.
It has a lot to do with the details and nuances in our language developed over time and shared experiences with those we are close to. Untreated hearing loss takes a toll on the communication we have built with others. An extensive study in the UK found that over 40 percent of hearing loss sufferers also felt their condition negatively impacted their closest relationships.
Over 30 percent of the volunteers in the study experienced a complete loss of their most intimate relationships due to the barriers of untreated hearing loss.
How do emotions come into play when dealing with hearing loss? Keep in mind it is both the hearing loss sufferer as well as their family, friends and partners that suffer the repercussions.
From a report published by Action on Hearing Loss that focused on the emotional impact of hearing loss on a relationship both parties stated the following:
- Decrease in shared activities, e.g. watching TV
- Decrease in socialization, e.g. going to restaurants with friends
- Increased loneliness
- Increased frustration and resentment
Both felt that the intimate and unique language they shared was changed significantly. The inside jokes and ribbing, sharing and reflection of experiences, challenging each other’s viewpoints were some of the aspects of the relationship that became compromised and restricted.
The positive aspects of the report showed that partners often felt they were valued and supported when trying to mitigate the symptoms of hearing loss.
However, the hearing loss sufferers felt tremendous physical and mental fatigue in making necessary adjustments and that they could never truly express to their loved ones how debilitating it is.
There are many strategies available for couples to large extended families when it comes to dealing with family members that suffer from hearing loss.
Couples that are used to going out to attend a play might take extra time to read it before hand or make sure to sit in a quieter part of the restaurant with their friends.
The dynamic between people, their friends, their partners and their family play a pivotal role in the success of the person with a hearing condition maintaining a rich and engaging life.
The following literature offers insight and techniques for those that want to work together to sustain their hearing health:
Speak to your loved ones if you, are they, have noticed any changes in communication. Support, coping strategies and a checkup with your hearing health professional will get you or your loved one on the right track.
A hearing exam and a comprehensive diagnosis and treatment plan would be the best course of action. An audiologist will have a wealth of resources to share with and your loved ones. Hearing loss when detected is the first step in prevention of losing one our most precious senses. Being aware, diligent and proactive about your hearing will help ensure that the foundation of our relationships with others and our world stays strong and enriched.