You don’t live in a vacuum, and as you attempt to make your way through life with untreated hearing loss, it’s important to remember that it affects your loved ones and community as well. Hearing loss has an impact on everyone around you, especially those closest to you. If you’ve been struggling with hearing loss, contact us at Swift Audiology to schedule a hearing evaluation. With more than 30 years of experience, we’re ready to help you re-connect with your loved ones and the world around you with a hearing treatment plan tailored to your lifestyle.
Hearing Loss Statistics
More than 48 million people in the United States have hearing loss, according to statistics from the Hearing Loss Association of America. But, only one in four people who need hearing aids actually wear them! Since communication is the key to the success of interpersonal relationships as well as most social and professional interactions, that means 75% of those with hearing loss are putting their relationships at risk. A British study published in 2009 surveyed 1,500 people with hearing loss. Forty-four percent reported that their hearing loss had caused relationship issues with their partners, their friends and their families. And, 34% reported the breakdown in communication with their significant others was so severe it actually caused relationship splits – including marriages.
Communication the Key to Understanding
Keeping the lines of day-to-day communication in relationships keeps them healthy and thriving. The small talk, the shared jokes, and the discussions about matters some might consider trivial set the tone of the relationship. Untreated hearing loss means those small, intimate interactions are lost. This can cause frustration and resentment in a relationship as well as a loss of intimacy and a feeling of isolation on the part of both partners. One partner may stop communicating because they can’t hear an answer, and the other person begins to feel more isolated and alone.
A 2007 study published in the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Leader revealed 35% of the participants reported that all of their relationships suffered, but the relationship with their significant other suffered the most. “All too often spouses blame each other’s ability to listen when in fact it is truly a hearing problem that is chipping away at their ability to communicate,” according to audiologist Patricia Chute, who is also a professor at Mercy College in New York. Action on Hearing recently released “In It Together: The Impact of Hearing Loss on Personal Relationships,” a report that featured 23 interviews with individuals with hearing loss and their partners.
The interviews showed both positive and negative affects on a partnership when hearing loss was involved. Those with hearing loss said their partners were supportive and were important in terms of educating others about their partner’s hearing loss. They also encouraged treatment.
Those with hearing loss also reported that even the most supportive partners had trouble understanding the impact of hearing loss on the partner with the loss. Those that had untreated hearing loss said their partners did not realize how exhausting trying to process sound with hearing loss was, and they did not understand the affect of background noise and how it interfered with hearing.
Both the hearing partner and the partner with hearing loss said their relationship had changed as a result of the untreated hearing loss and the change was significant and it involved the loss of communication.
Partners reported the untreated hearing loss caused resentment, frustration, loneliness and a loss of feeling of companionship, a reduction in social activities, decrease in intimate exchanges, difficulties in shared communication, decrease in shared activities such as watching television and a general reduction in communication due to reduced words used in talking.
One woman reported in a blog that when her husband refused to get treatment for hearing loss that their conversations deteriorated into shouted nouns. She said they stopped traveling to social events together because he found the background noise exhausting and he would want to leave early.
She said they stopped going to restaurants because he couldn’t carry on a conversation with her or understand the server.
Don’t just let hearing loss go untreated
There is no reason not to live life to the fullest by avoiding treatment for hearing loss. Advancements in hearing aids mean there’s one suited for you and for your lifestyle. Man is a social animal and your relationships shouldn’t suffer because you can’t hear what is going on! The best way to continue on a path of healthy hearing is go call Swift Audiology and get a hearing evaluation. Those around you will be glad you did.