Hearing Loss and Your Relationships

Dr. David DekriekFamily and Relationships, hearing health, hearing loss


Hearing loss is one of the most common health problems in the United States. It is a condition that affects at least one third of all people above age 65, with that number almost doubling in the post-75 year old population. In young children, auditory impairment may present as delayed speech. For adults who’ve lived much of their lives with normal hearing abilities, confronting hearing loss can be a particular challenge because they’re losing a sense that came so easily to them for so long.

Communication error

Communication is one of our primary charges as humans on this earth, and our societal interactions rely heavily upon clear hearing for communication to flow smoothly. For this reason, adults with hearing loss often report feelings of increased isolation which can eventually lead to depression. While this is initially a difficult transition to undergo, with a little patience and effort, our communications can flower once more.

Early intervention saves time

If you’re able to spot the signs of hearing loss early enough, you can intervene before your relationships take a hard hit. In fact, this is a wonderful motivator to make the appointment with your hearing health specialist or bite the bullet and invest in those hearing aids. Perhaps you’re getting along just fine with mild hearing loss, but it’s driving your spouse or partner up the wall! Instead of delaying the inevitable, you may want to take a proactive route and head off any frustrations sooner rather than later. Think of it this way, you’ll have way less ground to recover in the long run!

Invest in your relationships

An investment in a hearing device may actually be an investment in your relationship. One of the biggest predictors of success in marital and long term relationships is often frequent and intimate communication. If your hearing loss is making those interactions fraught and difficult, consider the way adding a hearing aid to your life might increase the clarity and frequency of those daily conversations and exchanges. It often doesn’t take much more than a few small moves in the right direction to get your relationship back on track. Your spouse or partner will likely have a change of heart soon after they feel as though they are being truly heard.

Have the hard talks

Let the people you love know that you want to communicate with them. After all, we can’t follow instructions we aren’t aware of. Just like we can’t attend to needs we don’t know exist. While it may be hard to speak openly about a subject that is tender to you, your loved ones want to know about your experiences and the ways that they can help.

If listening is effortful and stressful for you, suggest ways they can help to ease that stress. This might mean eliminating telephone conversations and moving into email, text message and video chat territory. Remember that the important aspect of this is not the means you use to communicate, but rather the fact that your communications are pleasant for both or all of you.

It might be tempting to shy away from this topic, but it is ultimately the best way to let other people in. Let those you love know that the reason you might be isolating at times is because of the effort that conversations sometimes require. Your friends may think that you’ve forgotten or are ignoring important milestones in their lives that they shared in a challenging listening scenario such as a phone call or a dinner party. The reality might be that you didn’t even hear the information in the first place! Let them know that it’s not personal and that you’re invested in seeking a solution together.

Workplace communications

Similarly, your colleagues may feel that they’ve been getting the cold shoulder. A few private conversations with your boss may be all that you need to get the message out. It is human nature to first assume that the problem is with us, and your coworkers may not yet know about your private struggle. Be brave and help them understand that you are dealing with hearing loss. As with loved ones, your coworkers may not realize that listening is challenging for you. Once they do, though, you can work together to find solutions.

If you are experiencing a hearing loss, don’t let your relationships suffer. Contact us at Fidelity Hearing Centers to schedule a hearing test.