Relationships and Mental Health – It Starts with Hearing

By Thomas A. Powers, PhD

May 31, 2023


For many with hearing loss, it began with instances of missed conversations or too many uses of that four letter word: “What?”.  A typical excuse might be to put the blame elsewhere, saying the other person was speaking too softly or mumbling.  All too often, however, we don’t realize the impact our hearing loss has on family and friends. Fortunately, it is often our family and friends who let us know our hearing loss impacts not only them, but us. They let us know we are engaging less in conversations or even withdrawing from social situations. It is by the encouragement of others that led many to start the process of getting their hearing tested and fit with hearing aids.

My granddaughters with their dog, LeoRecent research has shown that wearing hearing aids directly impacts our mental health by reducing feelings of loneliness and by reengaging in social activities such as walking, card games or even group sports like pickleball. Increasing activity can positively affect physical health as well.

As an audiologist who wears hearing aids, I can appreciate the enjoyment of conversations with family, especially my grandchildren (pictured to the right with their dog, Leo). Often, we take this interaction for granted. To hear the joy and enthusiasm in their voices about a project at school or even a story about their dog can make my day. 

Another friend who started wearing hearing aids told me about the strange sound he started hearing in his home. Walking around, he discovered it was the ticking of his old grandfather’s clock he had not heard in quite some time. Better hearing can inspire old memories, and encourage new ones. One of my college friends called to thank me for urging him to get his hearing tested when he told me he had to stop playing guitar as he could not hear the notes. While it took some time for him to get the programming right on his hearing aids, he finally picked up his guitar and re-discovered an old friend. 

Since our hearing plays such a large role in our emotional and physical health, we need to do our best to maintain it. Getting routine tests and, if necessary, getting fit with hearing aids can bring family and friends back into our life. 

Not sure about how well you hear? Answering a few simple questions on the Take 3 for Me challenge can help you better understand your hearing abilities. If your ready to see a licensed hearing professional, you can visit our Find A Professional webpage to look for help in your location.

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