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10 signs that your loved one may have hearing loss

Very often, when a person suffers from hearing difficulties, they’re not the first to recognize it. Often, friends, family or colleagues are the first to notice changes in a person’s hearing. Here are several signs you can look out for, that may mean your loved one has difficulty hearing. If you notice these issues, you can help by encouraging them to take action - starting with taking them for a complimentary hearing assessment.*

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  • 01-they-accuse-you-of-mumbling
    1. They accuse you of mumbling

    “You’re always mumbling, speak up!” Sound familiar? When a person has hearing loss, they may be under the impression that others are mumbling or slurring their speech. This is because hearing loss makes it difficult to hear certain sounds. So rather than hearing complete words and sentences, they may hear more of a mumble - or a muddling of incomplete noises.

    Caring for someone with hearing loss

  • 02-they-cant-hear-in-restaurants
    2. They can’t hear in restaurants

    Has eating at restaurants or with groups become challenging? Does your loved seem detached from the conversation? Can they hear the server describe the specials? When someone has hearing loss, background noises, such as clanking dishes and conversations across the table - or across the room - can make it harder to hold a conversation. The same may be true in cafes, stores or outdoors.

    Guide to enjoying social events with hearing loss


Should my loved one get a hearing assessment?

  • Many people are unaware that they don’t hear as well as they used to. Because often hearing loss get worse gradually, we tend to compensate, making it difficult to notice we even have an issue.

  • So how do you know if it’s time to get your hearing assessed? We’ve created an online hearing test that can give your loved one an indication of how well they’re hearing, using background noise, tone tests and self-evaluation questions.  


    The online test does not replace a hearing assessment* performed by our hearing care experts, but it can help identify if you have trouble and guide you to the appropriate next steps.

  • 03-they-seem-less-social
    3. They seem less social

    Has someone close to you gone from being a social butterfly to being more of a homebody? This is more common than you would think. Imagine attending a party when it’s difficult to hold a conversation—or struggling to hear over loud music and competing voices. It wouldn’t be much fun, would it? You may find your loved one withdrawing from social events or not taking part in conversations while they're out, when it becomes hard to hear.

  • 04-they-are-exhausted
    4. They are exhausted

    Does your loved one often seem tired after long conversations? It could be because they are straining to hear. When your family member or friend has trouble hearing, it takes a greater cognitive effort for them to hear. This can leave them feeling tired. You may notice that they seem extra exhausted on days where heavy listening is required – such as at conferences or ceremonies – or in settings that are difficult to hear in, like grocery stores or malls.

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  • 05-they-cant-hear-on-the-phone
    5. They can't hear on the phone

    Does your loved one complain about not being able to hear you on the phone? It’s probably hearing loss. Hearing on the phone - particularly mobile devices - can be a challenge for all of us. Poor reception makes the brain fill in conversation gaps. With normal hearing, this is easy enough. With hearing loss, though, it can be quite a challenge. As a result, voices may come across muffled and nearly impossible to understand.

  • 06-you-cant-watch-tv-together
    6. You can't watch TV together

    When someone close to you has trouble hearing, watching television or movies together can be unpleasant. You may find that you often need to repeat what the actors have just said, or that your family member or friend turns the volume up too high. Closed captions may already be a must in your home. Enjoying movies together might have been a favorite pastime, but now, perhaps, it feels easier to watch in separate rooms.

  • 07-they-cant-hear-their-grandchild
    7. They can't hear their grandchild

    Grandchildren are one of life’s greatest gifts. When your loved one’s hearing is not as it should be, though, they may not be able to hear them. Children’s voices are often the most difficult to hear because they are high-pitched, and some kids are prone to speaking softly, mumbling or even mispronouncing words. When your loved one lives with hearing loss, they risk missing out on conversations with children.

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  • 08-their-relationships-are-strained
    8. Their relationships are strained

    When a family member or friend isn’t hearing at their best, it can be frustrating—both for them, for you and for other loved ones. You may feel burdened by the need to constantly repeat yourself or “translating” what others say. You may even feel like you’re being ignored. Your loved one may feel like you and others are mad at them or that they’re constantly being yelled at. This may create issues in your relationship. Are you noticing any tension between you and your loved one? Hearing difficulties may be to blame.

  • 09-their-ears-feel-clogged
    9. Their ears feel clogged

    Hearing loss is often compared to the feeling of clogged ears. To sufferers, it may feel like something is preventing them from hearing correctly. If your loved one has been seen by a doctor, and there’s no evidence of a blockage or infection, you may want to consider hearing loss. The same goes for tinnitus, or ringing of the ears. While not itself a form of hearing loss, tinnitus is often a first sign of one. If someone close to you complains of blocked or ringing ears, be sure they have a hearing assessment.*

  • 10-theyre-not-themselves
    10. They’re not themselves

    Does your family member or friend seem down, distracted or bored in conversations? Are they experiencing difficulty balancing, or are they falling more? Maybe they’ve stopped socializing and don’t seem as sharp as usual. While it may not seem obvious, all of these things are actually linked to untreated hearing loss. All in all, poor hearing can keep your loved one from feeling like themselves. You can encourage them to seek treatment.


1. Beck DL, Clark, JL. Audition matters more as cognition declines and cognition matters more as audition declines. Audiology Today. 2009;(3):48-59.
2. Tan, Christine M et al. “Tinnitus and patterns of hearing loss” Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology : JARO vol. 14,2 (2013): 275-82.
3. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/hearing_loss_linked_to_three_fold_risk_of_falling
4. https://www.ncoa.org/wp-content/uploads/NCOA-Study-1999.pdf