Good communication is the foundation of healthy relationships. But what happens when communication becomes increasingly difficult not because of personalities or egos – but because of hearing loss? If you're having trouble with hearing loss, you’re not alone. According to the Center for Hearing and Communication, over 48 million people in the U.S. have hearing loss. The incidence of hearing loss increases with age, with approximately one third of Americans between ages 65 and 74 and nearly half of those over age 75 suffering from hearing loss. Studies show hearing loss is the third most prevalent chronic health condition facing older adults.
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.
Untreated hearing loss does not only affect an individual's quality of life - it also has an impact on relationships, especially for those closest. This is because hearing loss affects one's ability to communicate, and by definition, communication involves at least one other person. A 2009 British study revealed that out of 1,500 people with hearing loss surveyed, 44 percent reported that their hearing loss had damaged relationships with others. In fact, 34 percent reported that the breakdown in communication had actually destroyed marriages and other important relationships.
Many individuals with hearing loss experience social isolation, whether they realize it or not. For those with hearing loss, large groups, noisy venues, and dark environments can make it even more difficult to hear, engage in conversation, and contribute to social situations. It might begin with avoiding large parties or gatherings and trickle down to canceling on smaller, intimate affairs.
When we have hearing loss, it can make interacting with friends, especially groups of friends very challenging. It’s common for people with hearing loss to feel exhausted after social engagements. If their hearing loss remains untreated it can cause them to isolate themselves from the people who bring them the most joy.
Untreated hearing loss can affect an individual’s daily life and lead to depression, a serious mental health issue affecting 15 million American adults. Not being able to communicate with friends and in relationships at work can make individuals suffering from hearing loss feel inadequate and ultimately isolated. According to a study by the National Council on Aging, people 50 and older with untreated hearing loss were more likely to report depression, anxiety, anger, frustration, emotional instability, and paranoia than those who sought hearing solutions.
Treating your hearing loss with hearing aids can improve your communication skills with loved ones. Studies show that interventions such as hearing aids can not only improve the quality of life but can improve relationship satisfaction, communication, and social functioning. From having intimate conversations with their partners to enjoying TV together or socializing, people who invest in hearing aids find that they are once again able to re-engage and enjoy life more fully.
Recognizing and admitting the fact that you have a hearing loss and then being willing to take proactive corrective measures can go a long way toward reestablishing meaningful and satisfying relationships with those you care about. While hearing aids are the best 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 begin the process of better hearing and help you maintain your treasured relationships into the future. Has communication suffered with those you love? If so, don’t delay any longer and contact Glendora Hearing today to schedule a hearing test today.