Hearing is such an important part of communication and communication is an essential ingredient for relationships. When hearing begins to break down, the entire structure of relationship can become shaky.
Hearing loss is a major concern in the United States, with around one in eight people over the age of 12 exhibiting hearing loss in both ears. That’s at least 30 million individual Americans and, assuming they have more than a handful of close relationships to maintain, that means hundreds of millions of relationships where hearing loss is at play.
Hearing loss can be isolating
Losing one’s sense of hearing can be incredibly isolating. Missing out on the ability to easily communicate with friends and strangers might prompt you to feel as though part of your world is closing off. You might begin to avoid conversations with most people, even the people you love the most, because it’s difficult or tiring. And while it’s easy to think that hearing loss is just affecting you, it’s likely that your loved ones feel affected, too.
Shared activities can be tiresome
Many of the quality time activities you once enjoyed together might become marred by untreated hearing loss. It can become difficult to find a restaurant that is conducive to conversation, particularly as trendy restaurant design now features minimal decor, high ceilings, concrete floors and a blaring soundtrack. Parties or gatherings that once served as real connection events might become too exhausting to endure, as group conversations and small talk with strangers are particularly challenging for folks with untreated hearing loss.
Hearing loss and grief stages
In profound life transitions, people often go through the Five Stages of Grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. And this can be very true of accepting the reality of hearing loss. The path from denial to acceptance isn’t always a straight one and the length of time this takes varies person to person. Making your way to acceptance isn’t a solitary journey, your loved ones will certainly be impacted — and so will your relationships.
How your own experience impacts others
At first, in denial, you might shift blame to your partner or close friends. Instead of your hearing loss making conversation difficult, you might blame their mumbling or failure to speak loudly and clearly. You might blame environments or social gatherings for your frustration rather than your own difficulty hearing. Anger often makes us want to lash out at those around us, usually those we are closest to. Bargaining helps us persist in a false reality where we refuse to accept the facts, and depression is a lonely and withdrawn place. It takes a strong relationship to float safely above these rough seas.
Be transparent about hearing loss
There are ways to combat relationship break-down as a result of hearing loss. One of the best ways to stay close to loved ones as you come to terms with hearing loss is to make them a part of your team by sharing that you are experiencing hearing loss. Insteading of communicating less with your spouse, family or friends, make it a point to communicate even more.
While this might initially seem like an extremely vulnerable piece of information to share, it can become easier over time and you might actually find the practice quite liberating.
Acceptance equals action
Deciding to treat your hearing loss can ultimately improve your relationships. Instead of percolating in a resistant and isolated state, you can get back a portion of that ease that used to come when making conversation or socializing.
A 2017 study of people with hearing aids found that seven out of ten respondents reported improved relationships. Beyond direct communication, hearing aids can also make social activities less tiresome and more fulfilling. Instead of throwing out dinner or party invitations, you might find yourself with a vibrant social calendar once again.
Trust in Us
Connecting with our team of hearing professionals can help you on your way. First, you’ll undergo a simple hearing test so that you are dealing with full clarity around your degree of hearing loss. From there, we can help you find the best course of treatment, together! Contact us today to schedule an appointment.