Wednesday, January 3, 2001

Hearing loss affects entire family

Clinical Audiologist

Hearing loss has significant effects on all the members of a family, as well as on the person with the hearing loss.

Family relationships are also affected. Ironically, the closer the relationship, the greater the effects of the loss.


Many people find it difficult to accept that they might have a hearing loss. Unfortunately, it's not unusual for someone to wait five or even ten years to seek help.

During this period, the person and his or her family may engage in compromises and arguments as they try to deal with a problem that hasn't even been acknowledged. Family members may become irritated and angry at the person's refusal to seek help. Stress and friction are a common result. ("You keep asking me to repeat myself! Why won't you get your hearing checked?")

Realization and acceptance may come only after the repeated complaints of family members yet those same complaints may make the individual defensive and unwilling to listen. Instead the person may say, "I would hear the television fine if you didn't set the volume so low." This can lead to family arguments or people watching TV in separate rooms.


Once the hearing loss has been acknowledged, efforts to minimize its effects can begin. The family may benefit from these efforts as much as the person with the hearing loss.

Nevertheless, some hearing difficulties will remain. Because of these difficulties, the person may be less willing to attend family or social get-togethers.

Family members may sometimes get impatient. They may talk to the person less often because "it's just not worth the effort."

In social situations, the normal-hearing spouse may act as an interpreter to help the spouse keep up with conversations. These efforts can interfere with the husband-wife relationship because of the change from previous, more independent roles.


Hearing loss has significant effects on family members and on family relationships. We want to congratulate you on taking care of your hearing health it's important to you and your family.

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