Many people with a recent diagnosis of hearing loss feels themselves to be trapped on an island of confusion. The world no longer comes in clearly, instead every interaction is fraught with missed phrases and information. It can be incredibly isolating.
But we forget about the effects of our hearing loss on our loved ones and close relationships during this process. We are in fact, not on an island. We exist in relationship to other people and our behaviors and interactions have profound reach. When hearing loss drives a person away from communication, all of us suffer. That’s not the end of the story, however. When we are aware of how isolation and non-action can impact our relationships, we can take steps to intervene and interrupt this destructive process.
The hidden threat of undiagnosed hearing loss
Hearing loss in general can disrupt our close relationships, but it is undiagnosed and untreated hearing loss that does the most damage. Almost 50 million people in the United States experience hearing loss. Yet only one out of four people who need them wear hearing aids. This can stem from a multitude of reasons, but the most corrosive is shame and embarrassment.
Sometimes we bury our heads in the sand so as not to face our difficulties. Yes, admitting we have hearing loss is difficult, however normal it is in reality. It can still feel challenging. It also requires a certain undertaking on our part once we have the diagnosis. We can no longer participate in isolating behaviors or blame other people for the hurdles we face in conversation. Instead, we must accept responsibility for our lives and decide if we are going to intervene. The great news? Intervention is incredibly rewarding.
Hearing loss can be frustrating
It’s undeniable that hearing loss feels frustrating. Not being able to clearly communicate can feel imprisoning. But sometimes those frustrations bleed out from us and onto the people we love. Yes, going through the process of dealing with hearing loss with a partner or loved one can mean a wealth of support and encouragement. However, it can also result in feelings of resentment and misunderstanding. In a report titled, “In it together: The impact of hearing loss on personal relationships” by Action on Hearing Loss, it was revealed that even supportive partners were perceived as unable to fully understanding the plight of their loved one with hearing loss.
Communication is key, so listen
Perhaps the most common error we make when life hands us lemons is to try and make the lemonade all by ourselves. It just doesn’t really work that way. People with hearing loss need to share their experience with loved ones even though it can be difficult, and even embarrassing. None of us wants to feel like a burden, but we forget that it is these moments that allow others the chance to really love us.
And this is a reciprocal process. Once we share our experiences, we must be open to hearing about the experiences of our partners and loved ones. Only when this dialogue becomes a two-way street are we able to empathize with one another and be compassionate.
Intervention as a leap of faith
What diagnosing and treating hearing loss does for the people we love is to demonstrate in good faith our desire for better relationships. We cannot sit back and wait for everyone to accommodate our needs without stepping up to the plate willing to pitch in. And it’s a leap of faith in pursuing a better quality of life for us once hearing loss rears its ugly and inconvenient head. That quality of life we’re seeking? It isn’t just for us, it’s for everyone who has hitched their cart to our horse. We’re all in it together and making a move to improve our lot in life extends beyond the boundaries of us and deeply into the experiences of those we love.
Don’t sleep on intervention
If hearing loss is impacting your life, get your hearing tested with us at Hearing Health Care Center. It’s a quick and simple process that might just save your marriage or close relationships. Once you have a reliable diagnosis, our team will make short work of pairing you with the right hearing aid.