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Hearing Loss and Family Members

Families are one of the most important parts of the lives of many of us. If our family is supportive, it can be an ongoing source of strength and encouragement that extends to all parts of our lives. On the other hand, if our family does not support us, the resulting discouragement can pervade other aspects of our lives.

Family dynamics are generally difficult, and continuing vigilance is paramount in maintaining healthy family relationships. Frequent and thorough communications are required.

Because hearing loss often has a devastating negative impact on communications, relationships involving hard of hearing, late deafened, or oral deaf persons are often more of a challenge than relationships that lack this additional complication. In an ironic twist of fate, these relationships that are so impacted by communications difficulties often require even more communication to be successful. Here we explore the impact of hearing loss on common familial relationships.

A person’s relationship with her spouse is usually the most important relationship of her adult life. About half of these relationships end in divorce, and a surprising percentage of those that endure lack the happiness that a marital relationship promises. The addition of hearing loss increases the challenge to the marital relationship.

Right up there with spousal relationships are our relationships with our children. Always a complex relationship, the parent-child relationship is often further complicated by hearing loss.

August 2010 – Couples dealing with Hearing Loss

June 2010 –  HLAA Convention: What is Being Said? What is Being Heard?

December 2009 – Study Finds Family Members Play Critical Role in Addressing Loved Ones’ Hearing Loss

August 2009 – An Open Letter to My *Hearing* Friends

April 2009 – Children Speak Up: A Parent’s Hearing Loss Hinders Relationships

November 2008 – BHI Urges Families to Help Loved Ones with Hearing Loss Address the Problem This Holiday Season

February 2007 – People Who “Get It”

November 2006 – Arlene’s Tips for Holiday Gatherings

October 2006 – Here’s a great synopsis of baby boomers’ hearing loss, how it’s affecting their lives, and what they’re (not) doing about it.

October 2004 – Suppose a person with hearing loss often asks a family member, friend, coworker, etc. what a particular noise sounds like – ok to do or an invitation to problems? Read what Denise Porter has to say about this.

September 2004 – Laine and Rex Waggoner spend a lot of time teaching people how to maintain quality relationships in the presence of hearing loss. This article, entitled, “Growing a Healthy ‘Hybrid’ Relationship” sort of sums it all up!

May 2004 – Jan Christensen is a professional writer who has a hearing loss, so she writes very clear and informative articles about hearing loss. Here’s here article about how hearing loss affects family members.

December 2002 – Dreading that holiday party? Here are some (tongue-in-cheek) tips from Randy Collins on how you can survive the ordeal.

June 2000 – Dr. Eric Maisel has written an article entitled “How to Talk with Your Family“. The article is intended for a general audience, rather than specifically for people with hearing loss. But it is very applicable to families that include a member with hearing loss.

Explain to Me What it Sounds Like

By Denise Portis

Editor: I’m on a bunch of email lists that focus on hearing loss, and I often see postings that I want to share with all of you. I always seek permission before doing so, and most people are very gracious about granting it; Denise Portis has done so every time I’ve asked, so you may remember other articles she’s written.

I was going to comment on the several lessons in this story, but I decided that different people may see different lessons. So, without further rambling, here’s Denise!

Earlier this week I was talking to a friend of mine while outside work after classes. We were just talking about unimportant trivia; the kind of chit-chat that co-workers/moms/teachers tend to find themselves talking about when they find someone who “gets” them.

Some geese flew overhead. I spotted them immediately as they were in my line of vision, and I had already looked up to watch them fly by. However, my friend pointed and said, “My! Aren’t they noisy?” Without skipping a beat, I said, “Explain to me what they sound like….” Her face immediately turned ashen and her lip even trembled as she grabbed my arm and wailed, “I’m SO sorry! I didn’t even stop to think!” Well, honestly I couldn’t have been more surprised! “EXPLAIN TO ME WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE” is a common phrase in my household. I ask it all the time!

If my hubby says, “gee the microwave sounds funny”…. I say, “Explain to me what it sounds like….” (I don’t ask for detailed description as he might do something AWFUL like take it apart to pretend he can fix it!)

On a hike with the family when first arriving in Maryland, my son pointed to a Baltimore oriole (his first ever) and said, “How pretty they sound!” I said, “Explain to me what it sounds like….”

When my daughter says her cats purr sounds like it has a cold, I say, “explain to me what it sounds like….”

I say it all the time! I don’t mean anything by it; simply put…. EXPLAIN TO ME in words. There are so many things I can’t remember WHAT they sound like, even though I know I’ve heard them before.

I’ve been using the vacuum cleaner since I was a kid (wasn’t my mom a slave driver?). But I can’t hear the vacuum cleaner today unless I lay on the floor and “hug” it. (Don’t laugh! It’s what I do after it is explained to me what it sounds like! I can still FEEL!)

So my friend’s watery eyes and quivery lip took me by surprise! I squeezed her arm and said, “Sandy, I’m not upset! I automatically ask for an explanation in words. You didn’t do anything wrong! Be my ears – EXPLAIN IT TO ME.”

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