By Brian Erickson, Director of Marketing, Concierge Care Advisors
I am lucky in that my last living grandparent, my Grandmother, lives with my parents in their home (and in my hometown) of Puyallup, WA. My Grandmother is a remarkable woman, having raised four children while working full time, during a time when not a lot of women were doing that. She is also a breast cancer survivor. The one thing she struggles with the most that affects everyone around her is her massive hearing loss. While she has state of the art hearing aids, ones that even receive transmission from the television, she still does not hear all things around her.
The hardest part for me has been times when there is a lot of conversation and commotion going on and she is not able to hear everything around her. At these moments, she will often times look confused and defeated by her inability to hear the conversations around her. I can only imagine what she is thinking. I have changed my approach in communicating with her. Rather than shouting from across the room, I will get up and sit closer to her, making sure we have direct eye contact, and that I am speaking loudly and clearly without having to shout over all the other noise. I can usually see in her smile the appreciation of me coming to speak with her closely, rather than from across the room.
I wanted to share my story, my little gesture of trying to have a more engaging conversation with my Grandmother, because I know with the holidays coming up, often the noise and commotion of the environment around seniors with hearing loss can make them feel left out, confused, and even frustrated. I would encourage anyone with a loved one with hearing loss to try my approach in making direct eye contact, coming in to a closer range, speaking loudly and clearly – while avoiding the shouts from across the room. Also, if the room becomes increasingly loud and chaotic, as I know the holidays can sometimes be, encourage others around you to make sure they are doing what they can to be engaging and including to the seniors with hearing loss. It is possible to be lonely in a crowded room. Simply by reminding folks that with such commotion a senior may not feel engaged, you can change the entire experience for your senior.