Q. My parents are exhibiting a growing amount of frustration and antagonism with our family and each other. At times they can become very angry or just shut down. It seems mostly to be when they cannot hear well. If their hearing is involved, could using hearing aids improve their moods?
A. The behaviors you describe can all be components of hearing loss. Other common symptoms are speaking loudly, turning the TV up, mis-hearing, and accusing others of mumbling and/or speaking too softly or quickly.
Hearing loss may well be the most under reported and under treated health deficit in the United States. Since it is rarely associated with any physical discomfort, many people just ‘live with it’ as it slowly grows worse and worse. Unfortunately, our mood and behaviors change as our hearing loss worsens.
To the person with hearing loss, the world becomes more confusing and uncertain. Since we don’t feel any pain, it seems as if the problem is with everyone around us, not us. We may smile and nod without understanding what’s being said. And we grow more frustrated and moody as having conversations becomes more difficult. Many patients express a sense of relief, more social engagement, and more general happiness once they hear better.