Hearing Impaired Person’s Challenge Talking to a Hearing Impaired Person

Once a month I take care of my Mom, who is almost 101 years old. I am blessed to have her in my life. Mentally she is ALL there. Even though she can’t do as much as she used to, she is interested in everything and is very loving and sweet.

So why am I writing about my Mom in a blog about hearing loss?

Well, as you know by now, I’ve been living with a hearing loss since I was 20 years old, and I got a cochlear implant when I was 60. My Mom, on the other hand, only started to lose her hearing in her late nineties and got small hearing aids at the age of 98. In certain situations she can hear better than I can. But she is still challenged. When talking directly to her I have to stand very close to her, shout and often repeat myself. I understand that she is straining to hear. Before my cochlear implant, I too strained to hear everything.

But here’s the rub. In spite of being hearing challenged for most of my life, I get impatient trying to “make” her hear me. If I get impatient talking real loud to her, how do people without a hearing loss feel when I ask them to talk a little louder, or look at me when they speak, or do whatever I need to understand them?

Part of me thinks that my Mom should just accept that she can’t hear everything, like I did for years. But that was the me before I understood that hearing loss was only a disability and had nothing to do with me being “damaged goods.” In fact, it’s incredible that she DOES want to hear everything and that she fights for her right to hear. She is a living example of what a person with a hearing loss should do: Refuse to feel timid about fighting for their right to hear what is being said.

Yet I get impatient trying to accept my mother’s need for me to speak loudly and repeat myself. What an irony for me, after so many years of wondering “why can’t my loved ones understand that I need them to speak up?”

What about you. What’s it like for you to deal with someone else with hearing loss, or with someone whose eyesight is compromised? How do you feel when talking to someone who asks you to “speak up, I can’t hear you?” And is it worse if that person doesn’t acknowledge their hearing loss, or refuses to use assistive listening devices such as hearing aids? Do you get impatient or not? What can we, members of the hearing-impaired community, do to come to grips with this challenge?