Hearing loss does not just affect your hearing, it affects your ability to communicate and your daily behavior. Difficulties in communication not only hinder our social lives, but our familial lives as well. When a family member has hearing loss, the entire family is affected. Daily conversation and interaction create relationship stress. Unfortunately, hearing loss comes in many forms (see common forms of hearing loss) and can appear unexpectedly. It is important for the family to be vigilant to any rapid changes in behavior.

When humans are around family members, their communication skills tend to become more relaxed than when they are at work or in a social setting. Sometimes we may speak while facing away from someone we are talking to or yell across the house. Although these tendencies are natural human behavior, they can create problems between members of the family.

Family communication is vital. When we do not communicate effectively, family members may say to the speaker “What?” when they cannot understand someone. This response often frustrates the speaker because they have to repeat themselves. Instead of saying “What?” when you cannot hear someone, respond “I don’t understand what you’re saying.” This reply gives the speaker a chance to modify what they’re saying and helps circumvent the frustration of repeating oneself.

Drama often ensues when a family member with hearing loss forgets to put in their hearing aids. Without the devices, having conversations can be nearly impossible, leading to more frustration. When a family member has hearing loss, politely remind them that you will talk with them after they wear their hearing aids. However, family members without hearing loss should always respect the individual with hearing loss and be forgiving when they make a mistake. Reacting with anger towards having to repeat yourself does not address the problem at hand and may only lead to more relationship stress. Acceptance is the quickest route to effective communication and understanding. A family that communicates well is a family that stays happy.

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