Show your loved ones you care: Get hearing aids!
It goes without saying that relationships take work. Communication is especially important, as it is the way we listen to our partner’s concerns and frustrations, and allows us to have conversations about things both important and trivial. But if one of those in the relationship has hearing loss, frustrations can begin to mount. Just a simple conversation becomes difficult, and one of the most crucial elements of a good relationship can be lost.
For the person on the other end of your hearing loss, it can be frustrating and exhausting just trying to get through the day. And we perhaps we don’t realize the importance of those intimate moments, whispered secrets and romantic words until they are gone. But we know you want the best for your partner. So show you care by getting hearing aids.
If you are the one with hearing loss, put yourself in your partner’s shoes for just a minute. Think what it would be like to have to repeat yourself multiple times before being heard. Consider what it must be like to have to listen to the TV or radio at an uncomfortably high volume, or to have to leave the room. Or to be tasked with being a “living hearing aid” for someone else.
A 2009 British study revealed just how damaging untreated hearing loss can be to relationships. Out of 1,500 people with hearing loss surveyed, 44 percent reported that their relationships with their partner, friends or family had suffered due to their hearing loss. And 34 percent reported that the breakdown in communication had actually brought about loss of friendships and ended marriages in some cases.
“As someone who has worked in the field for more than 30 years, I have witnessed the devastating effects of hearing loss on husbands and wives, parents and children, and siblings,” said audiologist Patricia Chute, professor and chair of the Division of Health Professions, Mercy College (Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.). “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.”
So we know the damage to your relationships that can occur from leaving hearing loss untreated. But can treating your hearing loss actually help? The answer is yes. Hear the World, as a part of their “Hearing is Living” study, surveyed 4,300 people and revealed that 68 percent of those in the U.S. who started using hearing aids reported improvement in their personal relationships. And 44 percent reported that their love life had improved after getting hearing aids.
Think about how your hearing loss affects your day to day life. For example, does the volume level of the TV drive your significant other from the room? Is he constantly complaining that it is way too loud? Your hearing loss may be the reason. Something as simple as the ability to once again be in the same room while watching TV can pay big dividends in a relationship. Imagine once again being able to enjoy a Netflix series or watch a movie together. It might sound silly, but that shared experience can bring you closer together by fostering a sense of intimacy, allowing you to share laughter and inspiring conversation. Show your partner you care, and that you want to spend time with him or her, by getting a hearing test. Then follow through by getting hearing aids if necessary.
It is difficult to feel a sense of closeness or personal intimacy with someone if communication breaks down. Your spouse or significant other might feel lonely or ignored, friends might think you don’t care, or just aren’t a good listener, and your children or grandchildren might mistakenly think you are distant or aloof. Simply put, having conversations, listening and being emotionally engaged fosters healthy relationships. Seeking treatment for your hearing loss will allow you to once again be part of the conversation with those you care about.
You and your significant other have always enjoyed going out to dinner with friends, but lately you enjoy it less and less due to your hearing loss. You can’t hear your friends over the noisy restaurant din, and all of the servers seem to mumble when they tell you the daily specials. So you dig your feet in the sand and refuse to go out, leaving your partner to go alone or else stay home. Sound familiar? Well, you may want to rethink your actions. A recent study from the University of Georgia's College of Family and Consumer Sciences Studies shows that socializing and doing activities together reinforces the “couples” aspect of your relationship, thereby making it stronger. Getting hearing aids will allow you to re-engage in life and the activities you once enjoyed as a couple.
Everyone who has been on an airplane has heard the instructions, “In case of cabin depressurization, please put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.” The same concept applies in relationships. In order to be a good partner in any relationship, whether with a friend, relative or significant other, you must first take care of your emotional health. Research shows that untreated hearing loss is has a profoundly negative effect on mental state, causing higher rates of depression and increased feelings of loneliness, isolation, frustration and anger. On the flip side, those who get hearing aids report an improvement in quality of life and a reduction in negative feelings and emotions.
If you have hearing loss, it’s time to be part of the conversation in your relationships once again. Show your loved ones you care by contacting a hearing care professional today.