July 25, 2022

Treating Age-Related Hearing Loss Helps Your Relationship

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Treating Age-Related Hearing Loss Helps Your Relationship

Treating Age-Related Hearing Loss Helps Your Relationship

In the U.S., over 48 million people suffer from hearing loss, and very few people who could benefit from hearing aids actually wear them. Among adults aged 70 and older with hearing loss, fewer than one in three has ever used a hearing device, and even fewer adults aged 20 to 69 have tried using them. Although noise-related hearing loss has contributed to a rise in hearing difficulties among young people, age is still the strongest predictor of hearing loss, with people in the 60-69 age group experiencing the most problems with this condition.

Untreated hearing loss has been shown to contribute to a variety of problems associated with aging, such as loss of mobility, cognitive decline, and increased isolation. The communication barrier that results from untreated loss can also have a damaging effect on personal relationships, particularly long-term romantic partnerships. And a new study reveals that when one person in a couple has untreated hearing loss, their hearing partner is likely to be equally impacted by the loss.

In a study conducted in England in 2009, 1,500 people with hearing loss surveyed reported that their hearing loss had negatively impacted their relationships with their partner, friends or family. In 34 percent of cases, the breakdown in communication had resulted in the loss of a relationship, including marriages.

The good news? Taking active steps to treat hearing loss has been shown to repair the bond between spouses and make everyday life more enjoyable for both people. Let’s take a closer look at how hearing loss affects long-term relationships, and why treating it is essential.

Loss Of Communication

Although every marriage sees communication difficulties arise from time to time, the exchange of information, stories, and reflections that make up everyday life is the current that runs deeply through every long-term partnership. When untreated hearing loss makes it difficult for partners to share these small--yet significant--words with each other, frustrations abound and resentment begins to creep in. These feelings can in turn lead to a sense of isolation and loneliness for both partners, the unfortunate result of this loss of companionship is sometimes one or both people deciding to end the relationship.

Audiologist and professor Patricia Chute says, “All too often spouses blame each other’s ability to listen when in fact it is truly a hearing problem that is chipping away at their ability to communicate.”

Study Shows Partners Are Equally Affected By Hearing Loss

A 2016 French study of 44 persons with hearing loss and their partners, titled “Age-related hearing loss in individuals and their caregivers: effects of coping on the quality of life among the dyads” showed that the quality of life among couples where one has an age-related hearing loss was generally lower than among couples who are not affected by hearing loss.  The study, carried out in a French preventive health center, was important in that it revealed that the quality of life suffers equally for the partner of the person with age-related hearing loss.

The researchers found that the partner’s hearing loss resulted in anxiety, stress, and limitations of communication for the hearing partner, or caregiver. As a result of the hearing loss the caregivers also reported an avoidance of social activities and gatherings, as well as feelings of isolation, frustration, resentment and guilt. With the hearing partner’s quality of life being so negatively affected by hearing loss, the study found that the emotional toll of hearing loss was quite similar for both people.

Coping strategies helped

The study also revealed something promising: couples who used coping strategies such as problem-solving or positive thinking reported higher quality of life scores than those that didn’t. In fact, the general well-being and quality of life of both partners was closely tied to these coping strategies.  

How Hearing Aids Can Help

Coping strategies are no doubt important, as is treating loss with hearing aids. Assistive hearing devices have been proven to be effective at restoring channels of communication and increasing the quality of life for those who suffer from hearing loss, and their partners. Many studies have documented the way that life improves after treatment with hearing aids begins, and in a recent survey 70 percent of couples reported an improvement in their marriage once the partner with hearing loss was able to treat it.

If you a have a relationship that is suffering as a result of hearing loss, remember that hearing aids can help to you to repair, rebuild and start to enjoy life together again. Visit us at Hearing Spa in Sarasota or Bradenton to get your hearing tested today! If a hearing loss is detected, our experienced team will work with you to find a hearing solution to reconnect you with your loved ones.


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