Love can conquer hearing loss

Disagreements over the volume on the T.V. and having to frequently repeat yourself are just some of the signs that your companion could be experiencing hearing loss.

Posted Monday May 6, 2024

Good communication in any romantic relationship is important to meet our needs and keep us connected. But a companion’s untreated hearing loss can inadvertently break down communication in the relationship.

A University of Nottingham study documented some distinct communication difficulties for couples due to untreated hearing loss and its aftermath. It identified issues reported by the individual with hearing loss as well as their partner, and included:

  • Disagreements over audio volume: hard of hearing individuals needed the volume louder than their partners preferred.
  • Difficulties managing phone calls: partners with hearing loss struggled to hear the phone ring and the person on the line, so their partners continually had to answer the phone or alert them that the phone was ringing.
  • Challenges in social situations: Those with untreated hearing loss struggled with conversation, particularly when attending events with lots of background noise. Meanwhile, the partners with normal hearing said their companion's hearing loss ‘reduced their enjoyment’ at gatherings, and some reported attending them alone. Both admitted to becoming more socially withdrawn because of—you guessed it—the untreated hearing loss.
  • Emotional distress: Companions with normal hearing were stressed about having to adapt to their partner's hearing loss. However, they were also remorseful about their reactions to the hearing loss and incomprehension of their companions’ challenges.

If your relationship is impacted by untreated hearing loss, you don’t have to resort to speaking louder, or declining invitations. You can help your partner get their hearing loss treated so they can hear better, and you both can live better. Here’s how:

1. Start the conversation

Your partner may be in denial or feeling self-conscious about their hearing loss so try gently addressing it with, “I’ve noticed recently...” and provide examples that demonstrate the hearing problem. For example, perhaps you’ve noticed your partner hasn’t been seeing their friends much and you’re concerned about them becoming isolated. Or relatives increasingly respond, “never mind” when they miss the punchlines in conversations, often. Point these out to your companion and be their advocate.

It’s also worth sharing the devastating impact untreated hearing loss can have on quality of life, including the increased risk of dementia, falls, and depression (all backed by research). Simultaneously, assure them of the positive effects of treating hearing loss, including a significant improvement in quality of life, reduced risk of cognitive decline, and even the potential to live longer.

2. Encourage them to take an online hearing test

Following your initial conversation, your partner may still be hesitant to visit a hearing care professional. An interim solution is an online hearing test at home. Audiology South’s online hearing test will ask your partner to answer a few questions and then listen to a series of tones. It takes 10 minutes and will give you both a basic understanding of any hearing issue that exists. Moreover, the online hearing test can help reduce your partner’s fears by providing an idea of what the simple, pain-free professional hearing evaluation might be like. While online, browse the different types of hearing aids available and see how advanced hearing technology has become.

3. Schedule a visit with our hearing care professionals

Your partner can make an appointment online or call 0800 547 836 to book a time to talk with one of our hearing care professionals to get an expert diagnosis. Offer to go with them to their appointment. This is a great way to support them while ensuring they don’t miss it. Once there, join the conversation about treatment and hearing aid options and ask questions.

Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages, said, “The object of love is not getting something you want but doing something for the well-being of the one you love.” So, whether you have hearing loss or love someone who does, make today the day to choose better health and happiness for each other, and take on that hearing loss together. With love, support, and understanding by your side, you can get the hearing loss treated and restore that all-important connection that brought you together in the first place. What’s not to love about that?

Adapted from the Starkey Hearing blog, 13Feb 2024

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