If someone in your life has untreated hearing loss, you know living with them can be frustrating, difficult and exhausting. You often have to shout to be heard, repeat yourself frequently, and live with the TV blaring at top volume. Hearing loss can be extremely stressful for spouses, siblings, children, friends and colleagues. Often, information from these “communication partners” can be used to get a more accurate picture of the individual’s hearing loss and level of resulting disability.
Complaints by Those Close to People with Hearing Loss Shed Light
A research study published in the journal Trends in Hearing, through the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), reviewed more than 70 previous studies that looked at the complaints made by people with hearing loss and those closest to them to examine the same issue from both perspectives.
Areas Causing Concern about Hearing Loss
The study uncovered common areas causing concern for both those experiencing hearing loss and those living closest to them, including:
- Telephone – people with hearing problems reported difficulties with hearing the phone ring or the person speaking at the other end, while their communications partner reported having to take on the role of continually answering the phone or telling their partner when it is ringing.
- Television and Radio – raised volume as a result of hearing loss was reported as an area of conflict.
- Social Life – people with hearing loss spoke of the difficulties of social conversations in noisy environments, while partners reported reduced enjoyment of social events due to their partner’s hearing loss and attending social events alone. This also contributed to the issue of isolation as both parties reported becoming more socially withdrawn as a result of the hearing loss.
- Emotions – communication partners reported the burden and stress of having to adjust to their partner’s hearing loss as well as the emotional consequences for their relationship. They expressed feelings of guilt and upset in relation to the way they reacted to the hearing loss and their lack of understanding of their partner’s difficulties. They also reported finding the effort of communicating particularly draining.
The researchers believe that listening to the views of partners and family during clinical consultations and involving them in future treatment strategies could help to ease the patient’s journey through hearing loss and the process of adjusting to wearing hearing aids.
3 Innovative Hearing Accessories That Can Help
At Associated Audiologists, we encourage our patients to include their partner or close family in their consultation. This helps us determine the patient’s communication needs and make the best recommendations for the patient’s hearing loss, lifestyle and budget.
In addition to advanced hearing aid technology, we now have other devices that can help improve communication, especially for spouses or significant others. Three of these innovative accessories include:
- Remote mic (or spouse mic) that streams the conversation partner’s voice directly to the individual’s hearing aids
- Television listening device that streams program sound directly to the individual’s hearing aids
- Device that streams calls and music directly to the individual’s hearing aids.
Each of these can improve listening enjoyment and hearing aid performance significantly.