Does Hearing Loss Affect The Entire Family? - Attune
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Does Hearing Loss Affect The Entire Family?

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Unlike many other medical conditions, hearing loss just doesn’t affect the individual, but their family too. Whether it be parents, partner, siblings, or children, they’re all affected when someone in their family develops hearing loss. When there is difficulty communicating, it causes friction, which can take a toll on these important relationships. Teamwork and effort are required from everyone involved to ensure the hearing loss doesn’t have a detrimental impact on the family. 

Here at Attune, we are passionate about helping families who are affected by hearing loss. Today, we’ll discuss how hearing loss affects the different relationships within the family and how you can prevent it from ruining a relationship.

Effects of Hearing Loss on Relationships

When we are at home with our family members, our communication skills are often more relaxed than when we are at work or in a social setting. These communication habits may not be ideal. For example, adults may speak to family members who are in another room with the TV on and dog barking. This is difficult for people with normal hearing, so people with hearing loss have it worse. 

So, what are the effects of hearing loss on relationships?

  • Poor communication.
  • Miscommunication resulting in arguments between family members.
  • Financial difficulties when it comes to buying expensive hearing devices.
  • Reduced ability to enjoy favourite family activities.
  • Social isolation.
  • Feeling frustrated or resentment. 
  • Decreased intimacy. 

Luckily, hearing loss doesn’t have to have a negative effect on your family relationships. If you follow these simple tips, you will be on your way to preserving the relationship with those that you care about most. 

  • Get their attention – Before speaking to someone with hearing loss, ensure you have their attention first because they may miss the information.
  • Stay on topic – People with hearing loss can’t easily follow changes in conversation. If you change topics quickly without warning, you may leave them behind as their brain is already working intensely to process the conversation. 
  • Slow down – Talk slowly and take pauses when speaking. You may think that silence is awkward, but it will actually help the person with hearing loss to keep up with you. 
  • Remove background noise – People with hearing loss will often find it difficult listening in an environment with lots of background noise, even if they’re wearing hearing aids. Try turning down the music or moving to a quiet room to make the conversation for them easier.
  • Have some empathy – Ask questions and try to learn more about your loved one’s hearing loss. This will help you to understand what they’re going through and how you can make listening easier for them. 
  • Check for understanding – If you’re speaking to someone with a hearing impairment, you shouldn’t assume they have heard and understood what you’ve said because they’re nodding. Try checking to see if the message was completely understood, especially if it’s an important message. 

Communicating Effectively with Adults Who Have Hearing Loss 

three women

Communication between family members is critical. When communication is not effective, adults with hearing loss might say “what?”. This can be frustrating for the speaker as they have to constantly repeat themselves. Instead of saying “what?”, say “I don’t understand what you’re saying”. This can give the speaker the chance to modify what they’re saying and helps to avoid the frustrating task of repeating the message. 

It can also be frustrating when an adult family member doesn’t wear their hearing aids. For some adults, without the devices, having conversations can be extremely difficult. This can lead to even more frustration. 

When a family member has hearing loss, politely tell them that you will speak to them when they are wearing their hearing aids. It’s important for family members who don’t have hearing loss to respect those who do, and forgive them when they make the mistake of not wearing their hearing aids. 

Reacting with anger towards having to repeat yourself does not address the problem, it only leads to more relationship strain. Acceptance is the best route to effective communication and understanding. 

The Impact of Hearing Loss on Children in The Family 

For parents of children who are deaf or hard of hearing, there are unique long-term challenges that can place the parents at greater risk for higher levels of parenting stress. 

Families need to adapt to the many challenges presented by childhood hearing loss. The way to do so will be influenced by their personal and social coping resources. Studies have consistently shown that parents of children with hearing loss report increased stress in comparison to parents of children with normal hearing. 

For children with hearing loss, their parents and siblings will need to accommodate the logistics of long-term treatments, including appointments with many healthcare professionals and the associated costs. 

The Impact of Hearing Loss on Children and Their Siblings

kids

There can be many positive outcomes for siblings of children with hearing loss. Studies have shown that siblings of special needs can:

  • Be more compassionate and caring, 
  • Show greater sensitivity to the needs of others,
  • Be more independent, and
  • Be more mature for their age.

For those siblings who learn sign language, it can lead to other cognitive benefits. 

Some negative outcomes for siblings of children with hearing loss have also been reported by some studies. The results include:

  • They feel burdened by their siblings with special needs,
  • Are resentful of them and the attention they receive from adults,
  • Worry about their sibling,
  • Have increased doubt, 
  • They tend to be aware that they get less attention from their parents,
  • They are concerned about the impact that having a children with special needs has on their parents,
  • And often take on more of a parent-like role toward their sibling. 

Difficulties such as these may stress the family. Often brothers and sisters can be overlooked when adults are trying to adjust to a child with a disability, such as hearing loss. 

The most important thing is that adults are as open, honest, and informative as possible. Siblings should be helped by being made aware of the questions or reactions they may face, and adults can help them come up with ways to respond to those things. 

In A Nutshell 

Although there may be many challenges that come with having someone in the family with hearing loss, there are so many things you can do to support that person as well as dealing with it as a family. 

If you think someone in your family is developing a hearing loss, book a hearing test with one of our audiologists at Attune. We’d be happy to help you and your family. 

Enquire now