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How hearing loss affects relationships

(And how hearing aids can help!)
Last update on Jun, 04, 2021

Hearing loss not only affects an individual’s quality of life—it can also put strain and stress on interpersonal relationships. The good news? Modern hearing aids have been shown to dramatically improve both hearing loss and those affected relationships.

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How hearing loss affects relationships

Humans are naturally social creatures. We use the power of words to enrich and enliven our connections with one another through storytelling, jokes and words of encouragement.

As one of our five primary senses, hearing plays a critical role in nurturing these connections. Hearing loss often happens gradually, and many common hearing loss symptoms—such as difficulty discerning speech or understanding others amid background noise—can slowly chip away at an individual’s social life and mental well-being. It has also been shown that hearing loss can increase the risk of depression and anxiety, as well as negatively affect memory and concentration.

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When someone is dealing with hearing loss, the effects aren’t just contained to the individual. Studies show that untreated hearing loss negatively impacts interpersonal relationships, often affecting those closest to each other. These relationships may include significant others, children, grandchildren, friends and co-workers.

The effects of hearing loss on family members is often greater than that of the person experiencing it, with the effects of hearing loss on the spouse often being the greatest. Spouses report more anxiety, stress, frustration and fatigue. And studies have shown that living with a spouse with hearing loss is associated with poorer psychological and social well-being.

Hearing loss gradually impacts interpersonal relatioships in many ways:

  • The person may miss parts of the conversation, leading to frustration on both parties
  • Conversations may become simplified, with complex topics being avoided altogether
  • Both parties may avoid noisy or troublesome settings, leading to social isolation and loneliness
  • Both parties may withdraw from previously shared activities (watching TV, attending live concerts, etc.)

Three ways hearing aids strengthen relationships

Studies have shown hearing aids can significantly improve a person’s quality of life, which in turn improves the quality of their relationships with others. Living with hearing loss doesn’t have to be lonely or stressful. Miracle-Ear hearing aids allow you to live a life that’s fun, enriching and filled with favorite activities, while minimizing the effects of hearing loss on relationships. Here are three ways hearing aids help relationships:

Meaningful conversations are the cornerstone of relationships with family members, friends and co-workers. Unfortunately, hearing loss often makes it difficult to distinguish speech patterns, especially words with similar speech sounds, such as words that begin with “b” and “p,” or “th” and “s.” Hearing loss can also make it harder to hear higher-pitched voices and consonants in the higher frequency range, such as “s” or “f”.

The good news: Today’s hearing aids have been engineered to be incredibly effective at speech recognition, making it easier to listen and understand conversations in a variety of settings.

Miracle-Ear’s Speech Isolation feature makes listening easier through three technologies:

  • Noise Reduction—reduces unwanted background noise
  • Directionality—automatically focuses on the direction of the target speaker
  • Amplification—amplifies the target speaker over all other sounds in the environment

When these technologies work together, understanding speech becomes much easier, and the mental energy, strain and frustration of trying to listen during conversations decreases. Instead, that energy and attention can be redirected back to the person they are listening to, allowing the hearing aid wearer to be fully present and re-engage in deeper, more meaningful communication. Whether it’s brainstorming with co-workers about business plans or listening to grandkids’ imaginative stories, conversations become easier and more enjoyable with hearing aids.

And it’s not just the hearing-impaired individual who benefits: studies have shown that hearing aids also improve the other partner’s quality of life, relationship satisfaction and social functioning.

Shared activities can become more stressful and frustrating when one partner is living with hearing loss. Watching a favorite TV show together, catching up over coffee at a busy cafe, attending a live concert—all of these activities can present unique challenges when one of the partners has hearing loss. Both people may withdraw from these activities altogether, deciding it’s not worth the effort—or if they do engage in them, they are not able to fully enjoy or actively engage in the activities. The hearing-impaired individual often becomes a passive bystander instead of an active participant.

Luckily, modern hearing aids are designed for modern living and are equipped with advanced features to improve hearing in a variety of environments:

Music Master: For partners who enjoy experiencing music together, Miracle-Ear’s built-in Music Master program creates a richer, fuller sound in a variety of music environments with its three distinct settings. The settings are designed to handle fluctuations in volume and an extended dynamic range.

Wireless Windscreen: Outdoor activities, such as hiking, golfing and fishing, get a boost thanks to Wireless Windscreen, which can reduce wind interference without compromising speech recognition. It does this by replacing the wind noise in one ear with a more desirable sound coming from the other ear’s hearing aid, such as someone’s voice (a big perk if you’re walking side-by-side with someone).

TV and movie buffs can also stream sound from the TV, straight to their Bluetooth hearing aids, making it easier to share laughs and enjoyment while watching television at home together.

For many people coping with hearing loss, talking on the phone can be difficult because they cannot rely on other communication methods such as lip-reading to help fill in the gaps. Even talking via Skype or FaceTime can be challenging due to the unique acoustics of digital sound. Many hearing impaired individuals will avoid these methods of communication, or keep conversations simple and short if they do use them.
Grandparents and nephew biking at the park

We have the means to help you

Today’s hearing aids are well suited for modern means of communication. Miracle-Ear technology offers direct Bluetooth streaming to both hearing aids, with binaural ear-to-ear communication, making it much easier to listen and stay in contact with others who aren’t nearby.

Friends having coffee together

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It can be difficult to communicate with a loved one about hearing loss and how it has affected your relationship. Our Conversation Guide can help!

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