A couple facing away from each other because of hearing loss.

Family and friends, they’re the most important people in your life. Over the years they’ve been there to celebrate your triumphs as you’ve been there for them. They’ve always been your support systems when days seemed dark.

You don’t know what you’d do without them. They bring happiness, peace, and security to your life.

Could hearing loss tear apart a bond this strong? It seems impossible. But for so many, it’s become a reality.

If you or a loved one is has hearing loss, it’s time to learn about the risks to your relationships so that you can keep them going strong.

Why Hearing Loss Takes a Toll on Relationships

We often associate hearing loss with the older generation. But age-related hearing loss can be detected in children as young as 12. As we age, we very slowly lose the tiny hair-like cells in our inner ears that pick up sounds. Once these die, they don’t grow back. Repeated or prolonged exposure to loud sounds speeds up the process of severe hearing loss.

Most people don’t even realize it’s gotten bad enough to be a problem. But it’s a significant milestone that most of us will reach some day.

This lack of acknowledgment that hearing has reached disabling levels can lead to frustration, misunderstandings, confusion and even broken relationships. It’s hard for people to understand each other. They miss important information. Blame gets thrown around.

And to top it all off, those with hearing loss may carry shame around, thinking they’ve become a burden. They may not even realize that the strain in their relationship can be directly connected to their inability to hear.

It Impacts Your Mental Health

People with untreated hearing loss are 30% more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. These conditions can put a cloud over all of your social interactions. You may feel sad or anxious for no apparent reason. This can frustrate those around you who want to see you return to your usual joyful self.

You find it less pleasurable to be around people.

It Impacts Your Memory

People with untreated hearing problems are twice as likely to develop dementia. That includes Alzheimer’s. It’s harder and harder to carry on a conversation. Memories begin slipping away.

Researchers believe that this increased risk starts as a chain reaction in your brain. When a hearing person suddenly loses their hearing, that part of their mind slowly stops working. It begins to spread to other parts of the brain causing the brain to atrophy. It’s not unlike what happens to leg muscles if you never walk. The muscles forget how to walk and begin to break down.

Early on-set dementia can wreak havoc on relationships. In later stages, you forget who people are, making lifelong friends feel like strangers.

It Impacts Your Enjoyment of Social Activities

When severe hearing impairment goes untreated, people begin to feel like they’re “fading out” in social settings. They miss parts of the conversation. Because other recognize your hearing challenge, they may include you less in the discussion. It doesn’t mean they love you any less. It just gets harder to communicate with you.

You may feel ignored, but really, your loved one doesn’t know how to talk to you anymore. You don’t need couple’s counseling. You just need to be able to restore the communication channel.

Over time, many who go untreated merely stop going out or inviting people over to coffee, tea, to watch a sporting event or play a game.

It Makes You Feel Isolated

As this individual stops feeling as connected to people, they begin to live in isolation. This creates a strong sense of loneliness. When people don’t have someone to talk to or listen to, it can speed up dementia symptoms. It’s understandable how depression and anxiety can progress.

You Can Stop the Downward Spiral

We’ve got great news. This story doesn’t have to be your story. Research has shown that the simple act of wearing a hearing aid can eliminate the rift that you may feel now slowly widening between family and friends.

Hearing aids today are more technologically advanced. They help you hear better in any setting. They help you stay connected and continue to do what you love. Get your hearing checked. Talk to an audiologist. This downward spiral was once an inevitability. But no more if you seek support.