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  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • April 2017
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The effects of hearing loss on the spouse

If you are suffering from hearing loss, you’re not alone. While an estimated 36 million American adults experience some degree of hearing loss, those closest to you ­— your immediate family — are affected even if they don’t share your hearing impairment. Your spouse, in particular, may have a difficult time dealing with your hearing loss.

Many spouses complain of a lack of communication. They resent having to repeat themselves and adopt strategies such as positioning themselves in front of their husband or wife when speaking, encouraging lip reading and relying on handwritten notes. The biggest effect is on everyday activities, mainly television and telephone use. Spouses must deal with increased volume when the TV is on, making it uncomfortable for them to watch television in the same room. They also tend to be the ones to answer and make all telephone calls. There is also a reduction in social activities, with the hearing impaired partner more likely to want to stay at home rather than venture out and be put in a potentially uncomfortable situation.

Naturally, these factors can lead to resentment and put a strain on the marriage. Increased tension often leads to a lack of intimacy, causing serious damage to the relationship. However, a study conducted by the Better Hearing Institute (BHI) supplies overwhelming data about how much of a difference hearing devices can make for the hearing impaired, especially where relationships are concerned.

Of 2,000 hearing loss patients surveyed by the BHI, 70 percent reported improved communication abilities when they started wearing hearing devices. The study also concluded up to one-third of patients saw improvements in their romance, sense of humor, mental, emotional and physical health. These results demonstrate a clear potential solution to many of the communication barriers that patients with hearing loss suffer from.

If you are hearing impaired and married, there are steps you can take to improve your relationship with your spouse and ease his or her burden. If you own hearing devices, use them — and if you don’t, speak with your audiologist to see if they will help. There is a direct correlation between hearing device use and relationship satisfaction. Of equal importance: accept your condition rather than wallow in self-pity or despair. Nobody wants to have difficulty hearing, but dealing with it in a positive manner can go a long way toward maintaining a solid marriage. When you accept your impairment, your spouse is more willing to help and it’s easier for both of you to adapt to the situation.

Thomas Parry, Au.D, FAAA

Thomas Parry Au.D., FAAA is an audiologist serving all of northeastern Wisconsin with Appleton Audiology Associates and Hearing Services of Wisconsin. Thomas obtained his degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Western Michigan University. He has extensive experience in both hospital and private practice settings. He currently offices in Appleton, New London, Waupaca, Clintonville, Shawano, Antigo and Merrill. Please contact him at 920-560-6748 with any questions regarding identification or treatment of any hearing or ear related issues.

For more information about your hearing and cognitive health, visit our website and locations:

1520 N. Meade St., Appleton • 920-560-6748

723 Superior St., Antigo • 715-627-4199

2801 E. Main St. #5, Merrill • 715-536-0010

205 N. Shawano St., New London • 920-982-3313

1056 E. Green Bay St., Shawano • 715-524-4242

213 N. Main St., Waupaca • 715-258-0088

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