How I Deal with My Hearing Loss

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Guest blog by Affina de Jong-Tinga, British Columbia.

The losses we experience in our lives do not readily come up for discussion. We either avoid them or let them be, no questions asked. That way we don't have to lie. Most of the time we don't know what to say anyway, or we say something that is totally not helpful: "You must miss out on a lot of things."

My usual answer: "I don't think I miss too much."

My hearing loss has been a big adjustment. Gradually it has become worse, and now it is profound. Modern technology has been a great bonus for me, such as a digital hearing aid as well as my computer and iPad that I use to make my voice heard. Using closed captioning, I can still watch TV. An FM system (hearing loop) works well for me, but the telephone just does not cut it anymore.

Not being able to hear well brings many frustrations, but I try to put this loss in the right perspective. It is no one’s fault. Although I have remind people that they are speaking too fast and are not articulating their words well, in reality nobody is to blame.

I am blessed with an inquisitive mind, but sometimes it has become a stumbling block. For instance: when I sit in church I need to be able to hear what the pastor is saying and praying. I cannot possibly sit there and act as if everything is okay, when I don't have a clue what is said. So I have learned to ask for help. Fortunately I have pastors who are most willing to send me their sermons in advance, so that I can follow every word on my iPad during the service. I thank them regularly for their efforts.

It is difficult for others to remember what my loss is all about, and I understand that. Sometimes even my own children forget, although they try to make accommodations whenever they can.

Helping the hard of hearing is an educational process. Here are some helpful hints.

  • Always face the person you are talking to.
  • Talk slower, not louder.
  • Make sure the other can see your lips when you talk. (I do a lot of lip reading.)
  • Find a quiet environment to have a conversation. (At church, when someone wants to talk to me, I usually move towards the empty council room.)
  • Use pen and paper when needed to clarify the situation.
  • Have patience. Sometimes a person will say something to me, and I miss the point. So I ask him/her to say it again.

I make one blunder after another and we can laugh about it, which is great. No need to take myself so seriously. And no apology needed either. If I repeat what I think the other person is saying, it is often different. We both have a good laugh.

It does not get easier as time goes on, but one thing has helped me greatly. Though I am alone, I am not lonely. As I regularly assess my situation, I discover that there are lots of things I still can do. I love knitting and crocheting. I love to surprise people and give away handmade items. I have a passion for books and love reading a good story. Any kind of music is out. I can think, write, see, feel, touch, smell. When I look at all the possibilities, life becomes exciting again.

Posted in:
  • Disability Concerns > Congregational Care
  • Blog
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Affina,

I have several family members with hearing loss. These tips are very helpful. Thanks!

Community Builder

Thanks so much for sharing this Affina. Like so many difficulties and challenges, it is easy for those of us who are hearing impaired to feel different, frustrated, resentful, and alone with our particular challenge. Educating and informing others about our challenge so that they can better understand and help is very important. However, even with those closest to us, this seems like something that has to occur on a frequent basis. I have to remember that I live in a world, community, and family where most people are not significantly hearing impaired. It also helps me when I am able to laugh at myself . . . like when I misunderstand something and make a comment that has no relationship to what was said.

I do hope that the Christian community in particular would have a better understanding of the little things that they can do to communicate more effectively with the hard of hearing and hearing impaired individuals around them. 

Again, thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience.

Grace & Peace,

Jack

Horray Oma! I am so glad your wonderful story made it to the world wide web. I hope others can identify with this message and use the tips you gave. Much love from me in Toronto!

I love your story. I deal with hearing problems and tinnitus and am trying to learn how to accept the difficulties that come with hearing loss....thanks for your encouraging words.

Thanks for sharing this, Affina.

I also have profound hearing loss, which is somewhat mitigated by digital hearing aids.  Unfortunately for me, most of our church activities (after church coffee, dinners, receptions) are held in a social hall that has "live" acoustics, which makes the ambient sound level so overwhelming that it is difficult to interact with others.  So, like you, I remove myself from these type of settings so as not to embarass myself (and frustrate others) by mis-hearing or asking others to repeat their comments.  

This has resulted in a loss of many close friendships, since I am now considered "unfriendly".  And the less friends I have, the less "connection" I have to our church.   My wife and I are now considering looking for a new church home.

 

 

 

     One reason I appreciate each of you sharing your experiences with hearing loss and the impact it has on your life is because of our youth. I see teenagers either walking with headphones, ear buds or the radio blasting as they are driving in their cars. Each device playing music at excessive volumes. They are constantly bombarded with marketing that ignores how this will affect their hearing except for maybe some fine print in the instructions. But who reads instructions on how to wear headphones?

     Maybe our youth will think about how they listen to music if we educate them about hearing loss by sharing real life experiences.

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