For many of us, as we get older, it becomes harder to clearly hear what others are saying. Hearing loss can affect health and happiness, and not just for the person experiencing it. Your spouse, family and friends are all affected when you can’t hear them as well as you used to. It’s especially stressful on your significant other, who has to make allowances for your hearing loss every day.
Stress on Partner
Talking about everyday life and laughing together are important ways to maintain closeness in a marriage. It’s stressful for the spouse who can’t communicate because of hearing loss in their partner. The person who can’t hear well may need to turn the TV or radio up to levels that are uncomfortably loud for their spouse. And it can become frustrating to the spouse who always has to answer the question, “What did they say?”
Spending time with friends is one of the most common ways of maintaining friendships. Often, a person with hearing loss begins to withdraw from social situations, and friendships may start to weaken. Being a part of things shows that you care about others, but it’s hard to spend a lot of time in groups when you are experiencing hearing loss. There are much better hearing solutions than continually asking people to repeat themselves.
If your spouse constantly asks you to repeat things or ‘forgets’ about things you have already discussed, it may be that she’s not hearing you, rather than not listening to you. Pride can sometimes get in the way of admitting that there is a problem. Being a couple is part of having a relationship, and it is nurtured by communication. Emotional and physical intimacy can suffer when one spouse has an untreated hearing loss.
Studies have shown that people with untreated hearing loss may be at risk for accelerated memory loss and dementia. Not only are these things more likely, but they are also likely to happen sooner. Being tired and stressed from constantly straining to hear may make it more difficult for the brain to retain information. Also, if some areas of the brain are not stimulated, they may begin to shrink.
Significant hearing loss can contribute to loneliness and depression. If you can’t hear well, you may lose interest in activities that used to be enjoyable. Getting out of the house and spending time in other places helps keep life interesting. Surprisingly, only about twenty percent of those who have significant hearing problems even use hearing aids. Yet, over eighty percent of those who do wear hearing aids report that their quality of life is improved by being able to communicate better.
Effectiveness of Hearing Aids
Today’s affordable hearing aids are smaller, more comfortable and less noticeable. They are programmable in a range of different hearing spectrums. An audiologist can perform a series of tests to determine the type and severity of hearing loss and prescribe the correct type of hearing aid for each individual. Studies have shown that hearing aids work for many people, in both calm and noisy environments. There are many choices, from simple amplification devices to modern digital hearing solutions.
Start by taking the time to sit down and make a list of all of the ways that you want to hear better. A typical list might look like this:
- I want to be able to hear what people close to me say without asking them to repeat it.
- I want to stop missing out on important information or details because of my hearing difficulties.
- I want to be able to hear the car radio or the TV at home without turning it up to annoying levels for others.
- I want to be able to communicate well at my job.
- I want to hold conversations with my grandchildren and understand everything they say.
- I want to be able to eat out at a restaurant and keep up with the conversation.
Getting a Hearing Aid
Step One: Have your hearing tested by a licensed or certified provider. Your primary care physician will most likely be able to recommend a hearing specialist.
Step Two: Discuss expectations with your hearing aid provider. You will learn how much hearing improvement to expect and find out about any limitations.
Step Three: Have your hearing aid fitted and learn how to insert it, clean it, store it and change the batteries.
Step Four: Learn how to use your hearing aid. Your family will be instructed on how to assist you in making the most of your new hearing ability.
Be the Best You Can Be
The days are long gone when growing older automatically meant dealing with diminished hearing. In today’s world, there are affordable hearing aids that will make a noticeable difference in the quality of your life. Hearing loss affects your relationships with so many people, and it can be detrimental to your health and happiness. You deserve to live life to the fullest, and getting a hearing aid is one way of practicing self-care. With all you do for others, remember that you first need to see to your own needs to be a good spouse, friend, parent or grandparent.