Hearing loss has multifaceted effects that not only impact the person with impaired hearing but those around them as well. The toll that hearing loss can often take on relationships is a major outcome of hearing loss that remains untreated. Fortunately, there are effective hearing solutions that people can easily access today. Treating hearing loss offers countless life-changing benefits that transform daily life. This includes strengthening communication and improving relationships.
How Hearing Loss Strains Relationships
It is important to understand how hearing loss strains communication which is essential for relationships. Hearing loss reduces a person’s ability to perceive and process sound. This creates numerous symptoms that make it hard to hear clearly. Symptoms like tinnitus (a buzzing or ringing noise in the ears), sounds being slurred, and experiencing sensitivity to specific types of sounds impair a person’s capacity to hear. This impacts communication in a myriad of ways, and people may:
- Keep conversations as short as possible
- Struggle to keep up with what others are saying
- Miss words or parts of what someone is saying
- Pretend to hear just to get through the conversation
- Ask others to repeat themselves, speak louder, or slower
- Argue with loved ones about the volume of the TV because they may need it to be louder in order to hear
- Avoid conversations, outings, and spending quality time with loved ones
These effects of hearing loss can impact others in significant ways. In fact, people often report feeling unheard or ignored by their loved one with hearing loss. This can contribute to tension, frustration, and distance in relationships.
Benefits of Treatment on Relationships
Treating hearing loss can profoundly support and improve relationships. The most common treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids. These are electronic devices that are designed to absorb, amplify, and process sound. This provides the ears and brain with significant support, making it easier to hear. Hearing aids alleviate symptoms and maximize hearing capacity, enabling people to move through conversations and daily life with greater ease. This benefits relationships in numerous ways.
With hearing aids, people are more able to participate and engage in conversation. Hearing aid wearers are readily able to hear and respond without the disruption or discomfort of hearing loss symptoms. This supports people being more present and engaged with others which enriches interactions. Treating hearing loss also makes it more possible to spend quality time with loved ones and have dynamic conversations. This enhances connection, intimacy, and easeful engagement which can strengthen relationships.
Tips for Effective Communication
There are several tips you can practice with hearing aids that contribute to effective communication. This includes:
- Asking others to grab your attention before speaking which will allow you to be ready for conversations.
- Facing the speaker so you have access to nonverbal cues like facial expressions and lips for lip reading which is a common strategy people use to help follow conversations.
- Reducing background noise as much as possible. Background noise can be distracting and make it more challenging to hear. Turn off any sources of noise like music or appliances that may be noisy.
- Avoid multitasking. It is common to do things like cook, clean, text etc. during a conversation. But this can also distract from being able to hear and being fully available for the conversation.
- If you struggle to hear and process what the other person is saying, ask for them to rephrase it (rather than repeat). Sometimes, people can struggle with hearing specific types and pitches of sound. So saying it in a different way can be really helpful.
- Share specific communication strategies with your loved one. You will get familiar with what works best for your hearing. It is important to share ways that maximize your hearing capacity during a conversation. This invites others to contribute to making conversations more accessible and effective for everyone involved.
- Be patient with yourself and others. It can take some time to acclimate to hearing and communicating with hearing aids. Give yourself the grace needed to get fully comfortable with this new way of hearing and communicating.
Practicing these tips can help you navigate conversations smoothly which improves relationships. Contact us to learn more about treating hearing loss!