So today I had to take my mother to the doctor's office for a follow-up visit. Now I know there are levels of educated employees in a doctor's office- the doctor, the LVN, the RN, the receptionist, etc. And I know that some of these are highly educated, and some may be trained there from off the street. This has nothing to do with who is smart and who is not... because I want to pass on some education RIGHT NOW!! This was at the heart institute- and at this facility the patients can be all ages- children up to senior adults. But I would say that 90% of the patients that I see in this office are over 65 years old. And with age comes infirmities besides just the heart. That being said.. here is the gist of what this post is about- hearing loss. This assistant continued to ask a question when her back was turned or mumbled a reply to my mother. Why are so many people so ignorant about hearing loss? My mother has profound hearing loss. Yes, she has tried just about every hearing aid you can imagine. She was told she was not a candidate for the implants. So she lives in a world where she does not hear very well. This is the main reason I must accompany her to her appointments. So if you will let me enlighten you on how you can help someone with hearing loss then keep reading. The photo is of three generations- this is my mother, me, and two of my kids. Who else will inherit this condition in my family?
When you are speaking to someone that is hearing impaired:
1. Speak clearly- most people especially young adults rattle off words very fast. And someone in a dr's office should know... hmm... old person... probably has some hearing loss. Enunciate your words.
2. Face that person- most hearing impaired people can read lips very well from all the practice. So don't turn your face away from them when you talk to them. In fact, when you go to dinner, etc. try to arrange yourself across the table so that they can always see your lips.
3. Invite this person to go with you one on one- big groups and noisy restaurants are murder to a hearing impaired person-it is like a bunch of people are shouting garble.
4. No need to scream... you can talk louder than normal, but don't shout- they hear sound, it is just mufflled.
5. NEVER, EVER, NEVER... I repeat NEVER laugh at a hearing impaired person when they misunderstood what you said and answered the complete opposite of what you said, or if they just repeated what you were just talking about with someone else. Just repeat what you want to say.
Being unable to hear is a sad situation. But it does not have to be when you have considerate family and friends and people in the community that know how to help. I love to see how some of my mother's friends will gently nudge her when they want to get her attention to tell her something. I remember seeing a man on some show interviewed one time. This man had been a famous doctor or something, and he had gone blind and deaf. He was asked which one do you miss the most? He said , " oh that is easy to answer, losing my hearing. You see, losing your sight isolates you from things, but losing your hearing isolates you from people." I just never forgot that from so many years ago.
We do not want to see people that cannot hear to withdraw from the world. Only by being educated on helping a hearing impaired person, and being considerate of them can we make them not want to do that. And who knows... it may just be you that will need others to know this...