Whether you’ve had hearing loss for a year, a decade or a lifetime, it’s easy to get sloppy on the basics. Maybe we’ve become a little careless with our technical devices (as if they cost a few bucks rather than a few hundred or thousand). Maybe we’ve been backsliding to the days when we tuned out people and activities because it was too hard to hear. Maybe we just think this is as good as it gets and we’ve stopped trying to improve our communication.
If this is you, maybe it’s time to take a hearing loss selfie. Take a mental picture of where you’re at now. Do you like what you see in that picture? If not, throw it out, make some adjustments, and take a better-looking selfie.
Is my technology clean functioning at optimal?
If your hearing aid and/or CI sound processors aren’t clean, they can interfere with good hearing. It’s a good idea to take a really, really close look at your devices to check for any gunk or slime that may have worked its way into or onto surfaces, air vents, open fit pieces, etc. If you’re not sure how to care for your precious, expensive hearing technology, check the internet or refer to the hard copy user manuals for cleanup jobs you should do between visits to the hearing care professional (HCP). And don’t forget to change your wax guards from time to time!
Is my audiologist missing me?
So, speaking of visits to the hearing care professional, when was the last time you checked in? Your specialist will look at areas of your technology that you can’t get at – and shouldn’t try to! (I’ve learned the hard way that poking into the inner workings of a hearing aid will not end well.) Besides a technical tune up, you can ask your HCP all the questions you’ve been grumbling about since your last visit. And – although you may dread this – perhaps it’s time for a new hearing evaluation. It’s not about passing or failing but getting a clear picture of whether any adjustments are necessary to help you hear better.
Am I being open and honest with others?
We all bluff. We all pretend we’ve understood, when all we’re really doing is nodding our head, with a faked look of understanding on our face. Just a reminder: this never works out in your favor. Instead of bluffing, try to fix the communication barrier. Move to a quieter place, perhaps. Don’t be shy about saying that you’re not hearing well at the moment. Ask the person to do something, like speak up, slow down or face you. Whatever it is, it’s easier to ask than wasting mega-energy on trying to make someone believe that you understand them. You have to ask – why am I doing this to myself?
Have I checked out whether there’s a hearing app for that?!
Every day – well, it seems like every day – something new comes out designed to help us improve our communication. Speech to text on our cellphones and computers. Wireless connectivity through Bluetooth or telecoils and looping. Smartphones that act as microphones that puts your honey’s voice right into your hearing aid. Ditto with the TV – a simple little box will take TV sounds into your hearing aid or CI sound processor and lets others listen to the TV at their preferred volume without bothering each other. In a nutshell, ask around or surf the web to find out what neat things will can make your hearing life easier!
Has my attitude towards hearing loss shifted from negative to more positive?
Can you remember what it was like before you sought help for your hearing loss? Before assistive technology became part of your everyday life? Before you learned that there are resources and people who want to help you? Before you realized that hearing loss really is affecting your life more than you realized?
By remembering back to that time, you may realize how far you’ve come. And if you’ve come this far, then you can go even further to deal with your hearing loss. Because it’s yours, you own it.
If you’re one of those people who think they never look good in a picture, why not ask someone close to you what they think of your selfie. You may be doing better at this hearing loss thing than you think.
And beware of comparing yourself to other people with hearing loss – you know, the people you figure have nailed it? They may be bluffing too!
Gael, your comment that bluffing never works in our favour prompts me to share a recent experience.
A week ago I spent a few days in New York visiting my daughter. I drove to a little place called Rhinecliff in the Hudson Valley, left my car and took the Amtrak into Manhattan. Everything went well.
On my return trip to Rhinecliff the ticket-taker came around and in the course of checking my ticket he said something which I didn’t understand, and gestured with his hand. Instead of asking him to repeat his message, I assumed it was probably not a critical piece of information and simply nodded and smiled.
However, I was unaware that at small whistle stops the train stops for literally only two minutes, and not all the exit doors open. This, of course, was the information the ticket-taker had been trying to impart.
As we pulled into the station, I went to the nearest door and couldn’t get it to open. I tried another nearby door with the same result. I then ran down the aisle to the car behind mine, but was about 5 seconds late in arriving at the correct exit. By that time the train had started to move and I was on my way to the next little whistle stop 20 minutes up the line.
Of course, I has a moment of panic during which I dearly wished I had asked the ticket-taker to repeat what he had said.
In the end the ticket-taker was very kind and gave me a free pass back to Rhinecliff on the next southbound train. I was very lucky that a southbound train arrived in a mere 10 minutes, so I was back where I was supposed to be in under an hour. You can bet I was very proactive in determining which exit door I needed to use to get off the train on my second arrival in Rhinecliff!!
Note to self: Get better at taking responsibility for my hearing loss by asking people to clarify when I don’t understand what they say!
Keith, thanks for sharing! You’ve given me an idea for a new blog, and I will be sure to reference your story. Hope you’re well!
I would only add to the selfie list, Am I improving my speech and speech-in-noise comprehension? Over time, as my brain’s ability to distinguish between “moose” and “booth” has deteriorated, I need to return to regular auditory rehab, such as the Lace program, or the equally excellent free online Angel Sound. It takes practice to keep the brain decoding the often confusing stimuli it receives.