Family and friends, they’re the most important people in your life. Over the years, they’ve been there to celebrate your triumphs as you’ve been there for them. They’ve always been your support systems when days seemed dark. You don’t know what you’d do without them. They bring happiness, peace, and security to your life. Could hearing loss tear apart a bond this strong? Can hearing loss cause a rift in your relationships?
It seems impossible. But for so many, it’s become a reality.
If you or a loved one is has hearing loss, it’s time to learn about the risks to your relationships so that you can keep them going strong.
Why hearing loss takes a toll on relationships
We often associate hearing loss with the older generation. But age-related hearing loss can be detected in children as young as 12. As we age, we very slowly lose function in the tiny hair-like cells in our inner ears that pick up sounds. Once these die, they don’t grow back. Repeated or prolonged exposure to loud sounds speeds up the process of hearing loss.
Most people with age-related hearing loss don’t even realize it’s gotten bad enough to be a problem. But it’s a significant milestone that most of us will reach someday.
This lack of acknowledgment that hearing has reached disabling levels can lead to frustration, misunderstandings, confusion, and even broken relationships. It’s hard for people to understand each other. They miss important information. Blame gets thrown around.
Some people with hearing loss carry shame around, thinking they’ve become a burden. They may not even realize that the strain in their relationship can be directly connected to their inability to hear.
It impacts your mental health
People with untreated hearing loss are 30% more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. These conditions can put a cloud over all of your social interactions. You find it less pleasurable to be around people. You may feel sad or anxious for no apparent reason. This can frustrate those around you who want to see you return to your usual joyful self.
It impacts your memory
People with untreated hearing problems are twice as likely to develop dementia. That includes Alzheimer’s. It’s harder and harder to carry on a conversation. Memories begin slipping away.
Researchers believe that this increased risk starts as a chain reaction in your brain. When a hearing person suddenly loses their hearing, that part of their mind slowly stops working. It begins to spread to other parts of the brain, causing the brain to atrophy. It’s not unlike what happens to leg muscles if you never walk. The muscles forget how to walk and begin to break down.
Early-onset dementia can wreak havoc on relationships. In later stages, you forget who people are, making lifelong friends feel like strangers.
It impacts your enjoyment of social activities
When severe hearing impairment goes untreated, people begin to feel like they’re “fading out” in social settings. They miss parts of the conversation. Because others recognize your hearing challenge, they may include you less in the discussion. It doesn’t mean they love you any less. It just gets harder to communicate with you.
You may feel ignored, but really, your loved one doesn’t know how to talk to you anymore. You don’t need relationship counseling. You just need to be able to restore the communication channel.
Over time, many who go untreated merely stop going out or inviting people over to coffee, tea, to watch a sporting event, or play a game.
It makes you feel isolated
If you stop feeling connected to people, you begin to live in isolation. This creates a strong sense of loneliness. When people don’t have someone to talk to or listen to, it can speed up dementia symptoms. It’s understandable how depression and anxiety can progress.
You can stop the downward spiral
We’ve got great news. This story doesn’t have to be your story. Research has shown that the simple act of wearing a hearing aid can eliminate the rift that hearing loss can cause. May slowly the widening between family and friends.
Hearing aids today are more technologically advanced. They help you hear better in any setting. They help you stay connected and continue to do what you love. Get your hearing checked. Talk to a hearing specialist about a hearing aid. This downward spiral was once an inevitability. But no more if you seek support.