Photo: woods wheatcroft photography

Hearling Lost

English: Artone bluetooth loopset is a small w...

One of my patients, who I will call Dan, expressed to me his feelings about the loss of emotional intimacy he and his wife have experienced as she gradually lost approximately half of her hearing. He longs for the times when they shared those “sweet nothings” from the heart. She no longer comprehends the subtle nuances of humor, thereby missing the punch lines and shared laughter. Their romance eroded bit by bit.

She is in stage two of hearing loss. It is characterized by:

  • Moderately loud sounds becoming inaudible like the refrigerator, a doorbell, children’s voices
  • Lip reading now used, otherwise words are often misinterpreted
  • TV volume too loud for most people
  • Conversations require effort for both the speaker and the listener
  • Spouse develops a loud voice
  • Social withdrawal has begun
  • Mental fade begin, caused by diminished auditory stimulation
  • Family frustration elevated. “Daddy, why does grandma ignore me?” “I am so tired of repeating myself!“  “You don’t have to yell at me.”

At this stage, each family member is affected in some way. Denial of hearing loss becomes a source of irritation. Nobody buys it any longer.

Our language is richly colored with many subtle inflections. Those subtle sounds we place in our expressions are so important. For instance, if we ask a question, we elevate the tones to indicate that what we are saying is a question instead of a statement. Whispers can contain much meaning too, but only if the significant other can hear those whispered messages. For Dan to communicate with his wife, he must (1) be right in front of her (so she can see his face), (2) speak slowly and loud enough, and (3) repeat himself frequently. Does that interfere with intimacy? Of course it does.

Her hearing aids help. They do give her some ability to receive those “sweet nothings” from Dan. But she relies on lip-reading to truly understand speech. That is because she procrastinated a long time before getting fitted with good hearing aids. During that time, the hearing center of the brain gradually lost much of its ability to understand speech. That limits the benefit she should be getting from hearing aids. We don’t know how much speech recognition can be restored with hearing aid use. It depends on many things. Nevertheless, the lesson here is: Don’t’ procrastinate. Get help.

Dana Fox, owner of Mobile Hearing Care provides hearing aid services throughout the Idaho Panhandle including Luther Park and The Bridge assisted living facilities in Sandpoint. He can be reached at (208) 946-7827

Photo: English: Artone bluetooth loopset is a small wireless hearing aid accessory utilizing 2.4 GHz wireless technology to connect to accessories like TV sound streamers and mobile phones. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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