By Laurel Christensen
February 19, 2016 at 5:00 am ET
Human communication has clearly changed since the days when we relied on hunting and gathering to feed our families, and taken on new forms – through social media, texting, even video calls. The constant that remains is the importance of communication to our relationships with others.
When two-way communication begins to falter, it has a significant impact on any relationship – whether at work, with friends, or with family. We have all seen this happen before: a misunderstanding between friends, a forgotten phone call from a significant other, or unsuccessful attempts to communicate with someone in a different language.
These situations often lead to frustration, isolation, and anxiety.
For the 360 million people worldwide with hearing loss, this faltering of two-way communication and its resulting consequences are far too familiar. As hearing loss gradually fades, everyday conversations with those closest to you become much more difficult. At big dinners with family, you find your only contribution to the conversation smiling and nodding, as you are no longer able to distinguish individual words.
For those with severe or profound hearing loss, even one-on-one conversations can be lost. As one of our super power hearing aid wearers shared about communication with his wife before hearing aids: “There have been many occasions when my wife and I have been sitting at the same table and we can’t even converse. I haven’t been able to speak to her by telephone for nine years.”
Given our natural propensity for social interaction, hearing loss can be detrimental to our relationships and, as a result, our happiness. Last year, a study released by The National Council on Aging found that people over the age of 50 with untreated hearing loss were more likely to report depression, anxiety, and paranoia, and were less likely to participate in social activities, compared to people who have addressed their hearing loss with hearing aids.
As it becomes increasingly difficult to communicate with those around us, we withdraw and opt to avoid the exhausting interaction altogether – straining or even sacrificing our most meaningful relationships.
The good news – particularly during a month where love and relationships are in the spotlight – is that today’s modern hearing care technology puts effortless communication well within the reach of people with hearing loss. Discreet, attractive devices with better sound quality and an intuitive user experience are encouraging more people to address their hearing sooner than ever before. And this is important because the sooner hearing loss is addressed – a process that on average takes seven years – the less likely it is to impact our relationships and our happiness.
Today’s advancements in audiology, as seen in ReSound Smart Hearing, allow people to rediscover the joy of hearing. These made-for-iPhone devices support the face-to-face communication that’s so important to maintaining relationships, and through direct streaming they also allow hearing aid wearers to talk over the phone and participate in video calls more conveniently than ever – two methods of communication that can be a challenge for people with hearing aids.
As technology progresses, hearing loss as a barrier to communication is becoming a thing of the past – allowing all of us to live longer, happier, more connected lives, and be fully engaged in every moment.
As we celebrate the international day of love this month, I encourage people to remember and embrace the importance of good communication to maintaining relationships, and use this as an opportunity to talk to those around us who may be dealing with the impacts of unaddressed hearing loss. Join me this February in giving people the gift of rediscovering their hearing – and a few relationships along with it.