New Year resolutions are never really meant to last the whole year, let alone the rest of our life, are they?
OK, maybe they are, but every year don’t we make the same list of “I am determined to do this” things – eat less, drink less, spend less, smile more, and just be an overall better person?
People with hearing loss (PWHL) are always thinking about what they should do – or other people should do – to make communication better. Losing 25 pounds by Valentine’s Day may be tough, but there are some achievable goals that will make hearing loss easier to live with.
But first we have to acknowledge what we’re up against. For us, hearing isn’t a passive thing. Hearing people can just sit there and the sound flows through their perfect ears, go on a roller coaster ride in the healthy, hairy cochlea, then zap up a pristine acoustic nerve to the brain which understands exactly what was said, often 100% – without even trying!
Not us, the PWHL. Our hearing system is no easy ride for sound. Every day, we have to work through a long list of things, using a lot of energy, just to understand even 50, 75 or 90%!
Explain our hearing loss to everyone we speak with
Tell (or remind) them what we need (speak up, slow down, lose the gum, etc)
Strain our necks, raise our eyebrows and do a constant swivel-head as we try to follow the conversation, hoping to land our eyes at exactly the right time on the face of the person who speaking
Finding a safe nano-second break in the conversation so we can actually say something without getting the humiliating …shh, Tom’s speaking.
Daily cleaning and drying routine to keep hearing aids clean and happy. Change wax guards.
Ditto for cochlear implant speech processors
Request closed captioning on TV, movies, computers, etc.
Trust me, this is just a partial list of an ongoing process, which is not always easy and takes up a LOT of our time! But, the good news – we can take control of our hearing loss This year, you might start with one of the big four:
I will admit that I have hearing loss and do something about it.
I will get hearing aids.
I will explore a cochlear implant.
I will seek help for tinnitus.
If you’ve already got those covered, how about one, or a few, of these resolutions.
Keep my sense of humor about hearing loss.
Develop a sense of humor about hearing loss (in case you don’t already have one to keep).
Be more patient with hearing people who forget my needs.
Find exceptional inner strength to be patient with my family and friends who shouldn’t forget my needs.
Reach out to a national hearing loss association to find out what they’re doing on our behalf with governments and businesses.
Connect with other PWHL who might help with the neck-swiveling thing and other strategies.
Admit that my hearing health professional may just really know what he or she is talking about.
Explore how additional hearing assistive technology can help me.
Join online tinnitus forums to find out how other people cope.
Practice, practice, practice those sounds to help my cochlear implant work better.
Start using relaxation strategies – mindfulness, yoga, exercise, etc. – to help deal with the stress.
Not be ashamed of my hearing loss but accept it as a reality.
Take one hearing day at a time.
Be grateful for the people and technology and people who help me.
Well, that’s not a bad start, eh? Personally, I’m going to work on introducing mindfulness and yoga into my life. Starting next Monday. Good luck, everyone, and Happy New Year.
Note from Gael Hannan: Starting this month, I will be posting every other week. In alternate weeks, the Better Hearing Consumer will feature articles from people with hearing loss around the world. If you are interested in submitting an article, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org