Have you noticed your spouse or life partner withdrawing from conversation more often, turning up the television, and basically ignoring you?
This could signal something other than emotional distance. This could be one of the first signs of hearing loss.
In a recent study from the US Department of Health and Human Services National Institute on Deafness, it was determined that 18 percent of American adults 45-64 years old, 30 percent of adults 65-74 years old, and 47 percent of adults 75 years old or older have a hearing loss.
When a partner begins to show tell-tale signs of hearing problems like avoidance of phone conversations, dinner parties or complaints that their partners are ‘mumbling’ or ‘muttering’ when they speak, it maybe be time to see a doctor for a referral to a professional audiologist.
A hearing aid can make a significant and positive difference toward not only hearing well, but can help repair a relationship that has suffered from miscommunication and frustration due to hearing loss. However, this is easier said than done. Many people, after purchasing hearing devices, often refuse to wear them!
In a study of 100 couples over age 50, in which one partner owned a hearing aid, it was reported that over 44 percent of those owners wore them only an hour or so each day, and 13 percent did not use them at all! This resistance leads to frustration and anger on the part of the spouse who is suffering through the behaviors of the partner who simply cannot hear well.
Joe and Linda, about to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary, were shouting at each other more than talking. Linda was upset at Joe for having the television on too loud, and Joe was hurt by Linda’s constant ‘nagging.’ The two would often just avoid being in the same room, so Linda would not to have to listen to blaring shows that would force them to yell at each other.
Joe and Linda’s relationship, which should be thriving on intimate discussions and laughter, continued to deteriorate. This destruction could easily be avoided through one partner’s willingness to wear a hearing supportive device, and the other to communicate effectively.
The person without the hearing problem should be sensitive to the needs of the partner with the hearing loss. There are positive steps one can take in partner communication in order to respectfully support a loving relationship.
Some guidelines offered by the University of California, San Francisco include:
- Speaking slowly, distinctly and naturally without shouting or exaggerating mouth movements.
- Facing the hearing impaired person directly, on the same level.
- Do not talk from another room.
- Avoid attempting to communicate amidst lots of background noise.
- Know which is your listener’s better ear.
- Don’t shield your face or mouth while talking.
These simple steps can show sensitivity and understanding toward a partner who is just as frustrated with their inability to hear, and will help make it more likely that they will wear their device more often.
Once Linda had followed these steps and gently nudged Joe toward action, Joe placed a call to the great team at MDHearingAid. With the 24 hour support of their professional audiologists, a new hearing aid, and only 21 days of adjustment to all the new, wonderful sounds of life, Joe was on his way to better hearing and he and Linda were back on track in their loving, supportive relationship.
Joe now wears his doctor designed hearing device from MDHearingAid, and Linda is more able to communicate with care and sensitivity. They talk and laugh together daily. Their 40th anniversary party promises to be a great one!