Where to start? Let’s start with this. Hearing loss is isolating, depressing, frustrating, exhausting and frightening. That’s how it is for the friends and family around us.
Hope to have many opportunities here to note the social challenges that those of us with hearing loss have to deal with (or not) each day. But to start, I thought maybe it would be a good idea to take some time to acknowledge and try to understand what it all looks like from their perspective.
Early on I spent a great deal of energy on trying to cope, manage and otherwise find a way to live with my increasing hearing loss. It took me awhile to grasp how inordinately hard it is for those around us with whom we need to function and/or have a meaningful social relationship.
Especially for family and loved ones living with us it is truly fatiguing, frustrating and frightening.
They have to repeat themselves endlessly. Try to remember not to talk to you with their back turned. Listen to TV and music with the volume too loud for our benefit. If we stop and think about it a bit, this becomes a very long list.
Unwittingly, they are designated our personal translators as if we were Namibian Ambassadors to the UN. Without really thinking, when someone says something we fail to understand…. We turn to the friend or loved one for a “translation.” They quickly learn to repeat or worse, respond for us. Everywhere. In restaurants with waiters and table mates. At airports and train stations where we don’t have prayer of understanding the announcements. (When we travel by ourselves btw, we end up watching others for when and where they move.) We need them at family gatherings where “everyone” always talks at once. Often, we even need them at meetings where it is important that we know what is going on.
All of this takes a toll. On them, and on us. I’ll be talking about this some more, but for now, let me acknowledge how I value and thank those friends, colleagues and loved ones that continue to make the effort to keep me included, informed and part of the conversation still. Both sides need not to give up.