Communication is the cornerstone to any healthy relationship, amongst friends, family, co-workers and your significant other. It’s the casual conversation just as much as engaging discussion that makes us feel connected to one another. Inside jokes, conversing about shared hobbies and comfortable ramblings, build closeness. When someone is dealing with a hearing loss, our most relied tool for communication is compromised. If you suspect that you have hearing loss learn how this doesn’t only affect you, but all the people in your life.
Accepting hearing loss
Hearing loss affects approximately 48 million people in the US alone, especially as we age. 1 in 3 people deal with hearing loss that impedes their ability to communicate clearly, and this number rises to half as we reach 75. If you are coming up on these age markers then the chance you have hearing loss is very high. However, even if you are not in this age range it’s important to understand that hearing loss can affect you at any age. Hearing loss progresses slowly over time, so you may not even know you have a problem. It is a good idea to be screened for hearing loss annually to catch it before it can start to affect you.
The impact of hearing loss
While you suspect that hearing loss is an issue with your ears, it affects many aspects of your health. When one struggles in conversation due to hearing loss, they may become withdrawn, choosing to self-isolate rather than dealing with the stress and anxiety of struggling to communicate. This can lead to severe depression and a reduced sense of independence.
When people are socially isolated, particularly seniors, the brain can become under-stimulated, which can cause brain atrophy if ignored for long enough. Lack of socialization is one of the highest risk factors for developing dementia, especially as we reach our mid 60’s. Besides this health risk, poor hearing also makes us less aware of our space making us more prone to accidents. We are less likely to hear warnings and sounds that help us navigate our environment, putting people with untreated hearing loss at higher risk for hospitalization.
Communication Important to Relationships
Much of these health complications may fall on our loved ones, our friends, family members and significant other. This can change a romantic relationship into that of a primary caretaker.
At home with your family and significant other, hearing loss often puts a wedge in healthy relationships. Constant misunderstandings means frustration and built up resentment as hearing loss goes untreated. A 2009 study from the UK surveyed 1,500 people with hearing disability and found 44% indicated their hearing loss had caused a strain in their relationships with family, friends and/or a romantic partner. Approximately 34% reported that communication issues due to hearing disabilities damaged relationships to the point of divorce.
When you struggle to communicate, your hearing loss may prevent you from keeping up with conversation. This may make it hard to keep up with your professional life, as your co-workers get used to the idea that you are constantly missing details. Your boss will certainly notice and be less inclined to trust you with important tasks. At work hearing loss can make it more difficult to keep up with small talk and casual jokes as well. This makes it more difficult to connect to co-workers on a friendship level which can lead to lower self confidence and missed opportunities. Many studies have found that those with hearing loss are often passed up for promotions and are paid less. One study in particular found that individuals with severe hearing loss had annual household incomes of $14,000 less than their counterparts with healthy hearing.
Treatment is the Remedy
The sooner you diagnose your hearing loss the sooner you can treat your hearing loss and avoid the negative impact on all of your relationships due to communication hurdles. Hearing aids are the most common treatment for hearing loss; amplifying the sounds you struggle with and helping you keep up with the people in your life. Don’t let hearing loss progress to the point where your quality of life suffers. Make an appointment to have your hearing checked today. Do it for you and the people in your life you love.