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Hearing Loss & Impact on Relationships
HEARING LOSS ON THE HOMEFRONT
Communication is a vital part of our everyday lives. We interact with people all day: working, parenting, traveling, gathering with family/friends, and running errands. Hearing loss can present challenges when conversing, particularly with strangers or when the location has poor acoustics. Life does not slow down for someone with hearing loss. Often, we see these individuals attempting compensation strategies to get by, such as lip reading or using their loved ones as mediators. Researchers have evaluated the relationship dynamic between people with hearing loss and their loved ones. Their studies demonstrate that hearing loss produces feelings of frustration, embarrassment, and distress. Partners of those with hearing loss often feel forced to involve their partners in social gatherings and to avoid embarrassing scenarios by smoothing social interactions. This voluntary responsibility can lead to signiﬁcant stress and strain in the relationship. While one partner is trying to enjoy himself socially, he must also repeat words and phrases back to his hearing-impaired partner.
DO’S & DON’TS OF COMMUNICATION
Communication strategies can go a LONG way, even for someone without hearing loss! Just because your loved ones are ﬁt with hearing aids doesn’t mean they are now able to communicate from rooms away. To optimize conversation and reduce communication breakdowns, consider some of the following tips for talking with your family: DO:
- Get their attention (say their names) prior to asking a question or talking.
- Communicate face to face (visual cues help everyone!).
- Speak slowly and clearly.
- Try using different words.
- Have patience.
- Shout or scream.
- Speak rapidly.
- Turn your face away or communicate from a different room.
- Repeat the same phrase louder each time.
- Get frustrated and say, “Nevermind! Forget it.”
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?
“Hearing loss very often is such a gradual phenomenon that the person is in denial. You really have to be patient with them in getting them to come forward to get help.”
— Marion Ross
Communication is key to maintaining a healthy relationship. If you or your loved one is reluctant to apply these tips, consider educating yourself on the inﬂuence hearing loss can have. Also, share your feelings with your partner. Hearing loss isn’t “their problem.” It is a roadblock in your relationship that is affecting both of you and one that you must overcome together. The good news is that there are plenty of tools and technology for individuals with hearing loss to use to improve their communication and quality of life. One of the most important contributors to successful hearing aid use is support from loved ones. We want you to hear your best for yourself and for the people who mean the most to you. At Advanced Hearing Solutions, our job is to walk you through your hearing loss and provide treatment options. Please contact us if you or your loved ones are experiencing hearing loss. Everyone deserves a chance to hear better. REFERENCES: Morgan-Jones RA. Hearing Differently: The Impact of Hearing Impairment on Family Life. London and Philadelphia: Whurr Publishers: 2001. Tjørnhøj-Thomsen, Tine, and Hans Henrik Philipsen. “Hearing Loss as A Social Problem: A Study of Hearing-Impaired Spouses and Their Hearing Partners.” The Hearing Review (2019).