Untreated hearing loss does not simply affect the sufferer – it can also impact their family and friends. If you have a hearing loss and haven’t yet sought help, it’s important to be aware of the potential effects of your hearing loss on others so that you can maintain relationships and ensure frustrations don’t grow into larger issues.
Below, we’ve outlined how untreated hearing loss can affect important relationships in your life. You may not experience all (or even any!) of these issues, but it is still wise to be aware.
People with hearing loss often feel isolated and frustrated, and it’s not uncommon for their partners to echo these feelings. The spouses of people with hearing loss frequently report that a hindered ability to communicate has left them feeling lonely. This situation is exacerbated if the partner with hearing loss begins to lose confidence and withdraws from others.
Hearing loss also affects practical aspects of a relationship. Partners of people with hearing loss often grow tired of being asked to repeat themselves or of being misunderstood or not heard at all. When communication breaks down, small annoyances and frustrations can build up over time and create bigger problems.
Leaving hearing loss untreated also increases the risk of a dependency developing in the relationship, where the hearing partner is relied upon for tasks and communication. This uneven balance of responsibility can eventually cause resentment on both sides.
The adult children of people with hearing loss can also feel frustrated by their mother’s or father’s untreated condition. They might find it hard to stay in touch with their parent, as communicating on the phone can be difficult for people with untreated hearing loss. Their frustration may be increased if their parent ignores suggestions they seek help.
Leaving hearing loss untreated can have significant effects on a sufferer’s relationships with their grandchildren.
Children generally have higher pitched voices, making it even harder for people who are hard of hearing to understand them. Very young children are unable to understand the concept of hearing loss, and are therefore less likely to make a special effort to communicate. This can unfortunately prevent a close relationship developing between grandparent and grandchild.
Furthermore, it could be potentially unsafe for a grandchild to be in the sole care of a grandparent with untreated hearing loss if the grandparent is unable to hear the grandchild’s cries.
Socialising in groups can be overwhelming and isolating for people who are hard of hearing. Even talking one-on-one can be hard. Even though they might have the best of intentions, friends may not understand how best to communicate with someone with hearing loss. This may cause awkwardness, disconnection and change the dynamic of the friendship.
If you are living with untreated hearing loss, don’t wait any longer to seek help. Hearing aids can make your life a lot easier and they will go a long way towards preserving your relationships with the people you love most.
Tell us about your family’s experience of hearing loss in the comments below.