The hearing loss of one family member affects the whole family. I not only see how it affects my patients and their families, but I also lived it when my grandfather moved in with us. Here is my story.
The day my grandfather moved in with us was the day my grandmother unexpectedly died. We were all grieving and going through some terrible days. One thing we as a family did not realize when taking in our grandfather was his hearing loss. Our grandmother was his hearing aid. She would repeat, spell, write, and go right up to him to converse. We had watched this for years but none of us really understood the enormous impact it would make on us. She lived like this for years, with us drifting from conversing with him to just conversing with her and never even saw it happening.
Talking to him was difficult and frustrating. Repeating ourselves was a constant and sometimes we would just stop talking all together. We could not have a normal dinner. We would talk around him then have to yell at him to catch him up with what he missed. He would interject with off the topic remarks or just ignore us completely. Our family had two televisions in the family room; one for him with headphones that he would crank all the way up and the other one for us at a normal volume. My grandfather would wake up before us in the morning and not realize how loud he was in the kitchen, banging pans and cupboards, which would frustrate the whole family. He could not answer the phone at a comfortable volume, which would then blow our ears out if we picked up the phone after him because he adjusted the volume all the way up. These are just some of the little things that affected not only him, but the whole family.
After he got hearing instruments, our daily life changed completely. He heard little sounds and knew when people were coming up behind him. He wasn’t as loud in the morning. He could answer the phone and make phone calls, which he rarely did before! At dinner, he actually participated and we all enjoyed conversation and dinner. Our relationship went from frustrating and annoying to comfortable and enjoyable! Life became what it should have been all along…happy!
This is just one story. There are many other stories just like this out there that have gotten the help they need to change their whole family dynamic around. Don’t waste precious time being frustrated not being able to talk comfortably to your loved one. Stop repeating to each other. We only had a little less than two years with my grandpa living with us before he passed away. But it was two beautiful years finally getting to know him without the frustration of his hearing loss. It was well worth it!
– story shared by Dr. Kara Houston