Hearing management

Updated 30 January 2015

Deaf and in love?

He leans in closer to whisper sweet nothings in your ear, but you can't hear what he's saying. How frustrating to miss the moment when your partner tries to direct dinner into a more exciting direction.

An undiagnosed and untreated hearing impairment can have a fundamental impact on your personal relationships and if left untreated, lead to a breakdown in communication between you and your partner.

With Valentine’s Day nearly upon us, you want to be sure you follow all the signals and stay on top of the sexy conversation your partner will want to have with you.

How ‘huh?’ can dampen your date

Kayleen Jacobs, Senior Audiologist in the Western Cape says that hearing loss can be difficult for everyone involved, and she advises hearing impaired couples to be aware of the challenges as they plan their Valentine’s celebrations.

“It is common for a hearing person to get angry when they constantly need to repeat themselves or when they need to shout for their partner to hear them – while their hearing impaired partner may feel afraid or embarrassed when they need to keep asking their loved one to repeat things.

“Hearing impaired people may also feel anxious about going out into loud places or with large groups, as they fear they may not be able to follow a conversation in such a setting,” she says.

How do you know you have a hearing problem?

Jacobs says that people who suspect that someone they love might have hearing problems should take action when:

-    The person speaks really loudly
-    The person hardly contributes in a group conversation, and isolates themselves in such a setting
-    The person often asks for things to be repeated
-    The person looks at face or lip movements in order to follow a conversation
-    Keeps on answering incorrectly

Read: Identifying hearing deficiency

Date suggestions for couples when there is a hearing impairment

To be sure that hearing impairments don’t become an issue this Valentine’s Day, Jacobs says that there are practical strategies that can help make the experience pleasant and problem free.

When you plan to enjoy a dinner for two at home or in public there are simple communication techniques that can be employed to communicate with someone who is hearing impaired.

-    Always face the person when speaking. This provides visual cues.
-    Speak clearly with normal volume. Don’t over-articulate speech.
-    Eliminate background noise wherever possible. Turn off the TV, radio etc.
-    If you visit a restaurant and the hearing impaired person is wearing a hearing aid, the person should preferably sit in a corner so that the hearing aid doesn’t have to deal with both speech and background sound.
-  Get the hearing impaired person’s attention before you address them. Tap them on the shoulder.
-  If you’re joining friends, make sure they know about your partner’s disability beforehand.

When to get a hearing aid?

Hearing Aid Manufacturer, Oticon says that up to 84% of hearing aid users have reported easier communication with loved ones.

Read: What is a hearing aid? and Types of hearing aids

Octicon CEO Lezannie Bakker stresses the importance of hearing tests and says these tests do not take long and are not painful.

When going for a routine health check, have your hearing tested, she says.

Contact details:

South African Speech Language and Hearing Association
South African Association of Audiology


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Ask the Expert

Hearing Expert

Francis Slabber is a Speech & Language Therapist and Audiologist who has owned and run The Hearing Clinic in Wynberg, Cape Town for the last 17 years. Francis and her team have extensive experience in fitting and supplying hearing aids as well as assistive living devices. Francis has served as the Western Cape Chairperson for the South African Association of Audiologists for three years and has given many talks on the topic of hearing loss and amplification. The Hearing Clinic has a special interest in adult and geriatric hearing impairment, hearing aid fittings and hearing rehabilitation.

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