It's so important to understand that good communication is the foundation to healthy relationships. Learning how to voice your intentions, desires and needs is important and a skill we must cultivate. When miscommunication occurs, this may lead to conflict, but understanding how to speak and listen can make this process go much smoother. However, what happens when communication becomes increasingly difficult not because of personalities or egos – but because of hearing loss?
Hearing loss is the third most common medical condition in the United States, affecting 48 million Americans. One key complaint of hearing loss is that though people are still able to hear, it becomes increasingly difficult to understand.
With hearing loss, speech recognition becomes a challenge. Because sounds are not clear, folks with hearing loss may experience difficulty discerning between certain sounds such as “p” and “b” or “th” and “s.” Hearing loss also interferes with the ability to anticipate speech patterns, which may lead to slow understanding or misunderstanding.
The difficulty with speech recognition may create rifts in interpersonal relationships. One of the signs of hearing loss is frequently asking people to repeat themselves. Over time, constantly asking for repetition may lead to annoyance and frustration.
It’s no wonder that hearing loss often leads to social anxiety and social isolation. When people are struggling to hear their friends and loved ones, and are not comfortable discussing changes in their hearing, they begin to pull away. Over time, people with untreated hearing loss begin to isolate themselves and stop pursing the things they love to do. Untreated hearing loss has been linked to increased levels of depression, and even dementia.
Only one in four individuals with hearing loss wear hearing aids, leaving the other three quarters missing out on a portion of their life. In fact, recent studies showed 44 percent of over 55-year-olds said their romantic relationship suffered because one or both individuals suffered from hearing loss. About 53 percent reported a positive impact on their relationship with the addition of hearing aids. Instead of missing out on parties, turning down invitations to loud restaurants, or even fighting over the volume of the television, couples can work through their hearing loss. Strong communication starts with both parties being able to completely hear each other.
Communication is at the core of most work relationships. Even with the prevalence of emailing and instant messaging, face-to-face communication is still highly valued in the workplace. With hearing loss, workers can miss out on important details, causing problems with projects and deadlines. Supervisors may see poor workmanship instead of the root problem – hearing loss. People with hearing loss may be more frustrated, paranoid, anxious, and self-critical since they do not know exactly what is being said around them. If you want to be a valuable contribution to your workplace, treat your hearing loss!
Just as hearing loss occurs gradually, the frustration of family members with their loved one can gradually build until there is an explosion of negative emotion. The draining effects of having to constantly repeat oneself can lead to frustration, resentment, or anger. At times loved ones may feel trapped due to the denial or the inactivity of their hearing-impaired family member. Sometimes the relationship of people with hearing loss and their loved ones devolve into a relationship of the hearing impaired and the personal interpreter. These situations can lead loved ones to retaliate through avoidance, argument, or verbal abuse. However, as stated earlier, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Recognizing and admitting the fact that one has a hearing loss and then being willing to take proactive corrective measures can go a long way toward reestablishing meaningful and satisfying relationships. While hearing aids are the most appropriate solution for many patients dealing with hearing loss, every case is different.
If you or a loved one is experiencing hearing loss, please reach out to us at Glendora Hearing. We can help begin the process of better hearing and help your treasured relationships into the future.
Book an appointment with Dr. Kevin Ivory to start hearing better today.