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If you experience hearing loss, you should know you are not alone! Not only do more than 48 million other Americans have hearing loss, as well, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), but your loved ones, family members, and friends undoubtedly feel the effects, as well. Although the good news is that these people can be there for you to offer support and help when you need it, this realization also means that they empathetically feel some of your struggles, as well. When you feel frustrated at your inability to hear things in conversation, your feelings reverberate with those around you. If you feel isolated by the experience of difficult conversations, you can be sure that your loved ones miss the experience of easy communication with you, as well. Let’s take a moment to consider the relationship experiences of some people with untreated hearing loss before turning to consider the potential benefits of treatment for not only the person with hearing loss but also the network of loved ones who are invested in strong and healthy relationships.
Relationship Effects of Hearing Loss
In a recent report by the organization Action on Hearing Loss titled “In it together: The impact of hearing loss on personal relationships,” 23 people with hearing loss and their intimate partners were consulted about their experiences. They reported two sides of the same coin. On the one hand, these relationships were a source of support and strength when encountering challenges and frustrations. Our loved ones give us help and support in ways we may not even know. Yet, these relationships were also an opportunity for some frustration and feelings of misunderstanding. Although loved ones want to offer their support, they simply cannot understand some of the experiences of hearing loss. A person who has struggled to make out sound in a sea of background noise will be familiar with the fatigue and frustration that can bring, but a person without hearing loss simply cannot understand what that feels like. However, even those without hearing loss feel the ripple effects within their families and partnerships. When a person is feeling frustrated, angry, isolated, or depressed, loved ones are the first to feel an empathetic response. Setting aside the everyday practical frustrations of missed information and unheard questions, loved ones undoubtedly miss the feeling of connection they once experienced from a freely flowing conversation. Whether it was lighthearted and fun or deeply emotional, these conversations are the foundation of strong relationships. Without the ability to easily communicate, relationships face real struggle.
Relationship Benefits of Hearing Treatment
The good news is that you don’t need to stay in a strained relationship due to hearing loss. If you or a loved one receives hearing assistance, these conversations can be restored to their former state of flow. Expressing our feelings is crucial to feeling known, seen, heard, and understood, and verbal conversation is the quickest and easiest way to communicate how we feel. Once hearing assistance is put in place, a world of expressive possibility opens up once again. Not only can casual questions be heard throughout the house and little jokes be shared easily, but our feelings can come across with ease. Imagine the depth of a restored relationship that made it through the hardship of strained communication.
If you sense that your loved one might be experiencing hearing loss, why not take the opportunity to discuss the possibility? If you thoughtfully choose an environment and time to engage in an open conversation about hearing loss, your loved one can open up about these frustrating experiences. Simply ask questions and then take the time to listen carefully. On the other hand, if you are the one with untreated hearing loss, don’t delay to make an appointment for a hearing test. Once your hearing professional understands the nature of your hearing loss, you can receive a recommendation of treatment options. Once those aids are implemented, you will be amazed at the world of reconnection that opens before you once again. With a freely flowing exchange of communication restored, you can explore your closest relationships as if they are established anew, opening up and listening in return.