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Blindness separates us from things,” said Helen Keller, “but deafness separates us from people.” While hearing loss is not the same it can still be a very isolating condition. It is estimated that currently 48 million people in the United States suffer from hearing loss making it America’s third worst chronic disease. Communication is the cornerstone to healthy relationships and if hearing loss is not treated the relationships to the people closest to you will be the first to suffer. While once you lose some hearing, it is impossible to regain your original hearing ability, with the use of hearing aids your power to communicate can be restored.
How Untreated Hearing Loss Affects Your Relationships
When it comes to the closest most intimate relationships in your life such as with your family and significant others communication keeps your relationship alive and full of joy and excitement. When your hearing starts to diminish you can begin to mishear what your loved ones are trying to say. Going to parties or eating at a busy restaurant may have caused you joy in the past and bonded you to the people you love but as hearing loss becomes more acute it can be a challenge to hear a speaker in a noisy room. It is even harder to single out a single voice when there are multiple people speaking. Constant miscommunication can cause a wedge in you most precious relationships. The complicated part is knowing that you have hearing loss at all as it often develops slowly over a lifetime. Often it’s your friends and family that are the ones that first suggest that you have a hearing loss.
Consequences of Untreated Hearing Loss
When you are constantly struggling to hear and respond with limited information it can often seem easier to not participate in the social situations and relationships that used to thrill you at all. People living with untreated hearing loss often self isolate instead of struggle to hear. This ultimately can lead to loneness, anxiety fatigue and depression. This emotional impact affects your relationships in detrimental ways. Perhaps because you struggle hearing on the phone you stop reaching out and keeping in touch with friends and family at all. At home a regular occurrence of misunderstanding can put a block on your relationships with you significant other, reducing the amount of inside jokes, daily antidotes, intimate talks and stories. These are the things that strengthen our relationships and keep us feeling engaged and connected.
Another aspect of hearing loss that strains your relationships is speech recognition. Even though you may be able to hear comprehension can become a challenge. With untreated hearing loss, speech recognition becomes challenging. It is often certain sounds or pitches that go first causing you to miss words or mishear sentences. Your brain is forced to work overtime as it strains to decipher what is being said with limited information. This constant strain can cause your brain to struggle and has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Seeking Treatment for Hearing Loss
It’s important to remember that you are not alone in this. Approximately one in three people over the age of 65 experience some degree of hearing loss, while 50% of people over the age of 75 and 80% of people over the age of 85 have a hearing loss. While the consequences of untreated hearing loss are terrifying it’s important that you don’t have to live this way at all! If you suspect that you have a hearing loss or your family and friends are suggesting as such all you have to do is schedule a hearing test. Hearing tests are quick, painless and can let you know if you have hearing loss and to what degree. The most common and effective treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids. Hearing aids can help you rebuild the relationships that may have slowly struggled as hearing loss took hold. While hearing aids take a moment to get used to the benefits of wearing them regularly can help you reconnect to the people you love and get back the independence and joy that keeps life exciting and worth living!