As a young boy, I watched how my mother dealt with her hearing loss. It began as a mild inconvenience and gradually increased, creating a constant struggle to stay engaged and connected to everything she held dear. I was the third youngest of seven children. Growing up on a small farm in northeast Indiana, we didn’t have much by today’s standards, but we loved each other deeply and always had our needs met. My dad worked hard to provide for the family. He worked hard through the week, but he also knew how to play with his kids. He would say, “Weekends were made for family.” He could make a game out of anything!
It was evident he loved his family and he loved his wife. My Dad was a man who didn’t invest much in this world’s goods, but he invested greatly in his family.
My Mom and Dad were a great team together. Mom was loving, tender, always thinking of others and a great cook! Her focus in life was on her husband, her children, and church.
When I was in my mid teens, we started noticing that Mom began to struggle with her hearing. We heard a lot of, “What?” “What was that?” “Say that again please.” As time went on, her hearing declined even more. There were times she would misunderstand what one of us had said and when she repeated what she thought was said, it was truly funny. Everyone, including Mom, would be rolling with laughter. But there were many times when the hearing loss created a misunderstanding that wasn’t funny – it was actually frustrating and sometimes hurtful.
Mom was fit with hearing aids, which helped significantly. However, they were only part of the solution. My Dad helped us kids understand that “better hearing” (or better communication) isn’t just Mom’s responsibility, it’s up to all of us to help Mom hear better.
I want to share four “helpful hints” that Dad would tell us. These helped to greatly reduce the frustration of her hearing loss.
- “Get Mom’s attention before you begin talking”……..
- “You must look at her…face to face.”…………
- “Slow down your speech….slow is better than loud………..
- “Turn down the TV/Radio when you want to have a meaningful conversation.”………
They sound basic and simple but they had a big impact on our family. If someone you love is having trouble with their hearing, incorporate these strategies to help lessen the frustration of hearing loss.