Inability to hear properly can lead to arguments.
Deafness can lead to heated arguments between couples and even marital breakdown, according to a survey about the social consequences of hearing loss published today. The hard-of-hearing partner often feels upset that their spouse does not understand what it is like to suffer from the condition, the poll found.
But the deaf person’s reluctance to recognise their condition and do anything about it is also a major source of stress.
A third of respondents to the study, which questioned more than 1000 people with deafness over 40, said their inability to hear properly had led to arguments with the family.
And one in 16 said their partner had even threatened to leave or divorce them unless they got their hearing sorted out.
Joan McKechnie, an audiologist with the firm HearingDirect.com, which carried out the survey, said the problem was that many people were “in denial”.
She said: “It can be a real shock for many people in their middle age who begin to experience hearing loss, as they do not like the idea of wearing a hearing aid, which has a real stigma associated with ‘disabled’ and old people.
Instead, they battle on in denial trying to cope as best they can.”
The survey found that one in five of the nine million people estimated to suffer from some form of deafness had lied about it to friends and family.
Two-thirds also admitted to bluffing their way through conversations, while a half said they had become depressed and isolated.
A spokesman for the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID) said: “Incredibly it can take up to 15 years for some people with hearing loss to get the help they need, a sad fact when you consider the impact hearing loss has on family and work life.
“People with hearing loss often feel isolated from work colleagues and loved ones, and we would encourage anyone who thinks they may have a hearing loss to take action now.”
HearingDirect.com has launched an online simulator so people can experience something of what it is like to begin to lose one’s hearing.