Living With a Partner With Hearing Loss
Hearing loss doesn’t happen overnight. It creeps up on us slowly, gradually eroding our ability to ear, understand, and communicate over a period of years, or even decades.
For those who experience hearing loss, it’s all-too-common to live in denial. And for those of us, whose loved ones are affected, it’s just as common to live in a state of near-constant frustration.
Though we tend to think of hearing loss as something that only affects us in old age, there are many conditions (like Meniere’s disease) which cause our hearing to deteriorate even when we’re in our 20s.
Living with someone who has hearing loss isn’t easy, and at some times it can feel as though it has driven a wedge between you and your partner.
After all, communication is absolutely imperative in a healthy relationship.
Here, we’ll look at some practical tips for living and loving when your partner is affected by hearing loss.
Try to be patient with them (even when it’s not easy)
When your partner is losing their hearing, it can impact extremely negatively on your self-esteem.
You may not feel listened to. Indeed, you may instinctively feel that your partner is actively ignoring you.
Even if logical thought is to the contrary, this feeling can make you feel unloved, undervalued, and generally very bad about yourself and the relationship.
Ultimately, however, you need to come to terms with the fact that your significant other is not doing this on purpose.
Remember their love for you, and everything else becomes a little easier to deal with.
Speak slowly, clearly and to them
Fairly or unfairly, rightly or wrongly, communicating effectively with a partner who has hearing loss requires a little extra effort on your part.
The UCSF has some great advice on communicating with someone who has hearing loss. Try and get out of the habit of shouting at one another from different rooms.
This inevitably results in confusion. Instead, speak slowly, clearly, and while facing them.
This will allow them to supplement what they can hear with your facial expressions, lip movement, and other non-verbal cues like body language and hand gestures.
Encourage them to be proactive
The unfortunate truth is that hearing loss is almost always degenerative, getting worse over time. So you need to help them to be proactive.
Look into things you can do to prevent hearing loss from worsening, like wearing ear protection in loud environments.
Reducing caffeine and salt intake can also help if hearing loss is caused by conditions like Menieres by reducing blood pressure.
You should also encourage them to see an audiologist as soon as possible and get fitted for a hearing aid.
While it may feel unwieldy for them at first, the sooner they start using it, the more they will benefit.
Finally, those with hearing loss can find conversations with friends at social gatherings like parties, bars, or restaurants difficult.
They may find it hard, and even tiring, to pick the voices of the people they’re speaking to out from the general hubbub.
As a result, they may become more reclusive and eschew social contact.
You can help by encouraging them to stay social, planning gatherings in quiet venues, and making sure they feel loved and supported.