The holidays are upon us. It seems impossible that it’s time for all the hullabaloo again. Don’t get me wrong, I love hullabaloo! But, it’s not that much fun for everyone. All the noise… all the activity… all the TV’s on all day long… This can really be taxing on those with hearing impairment.
In all the movement, you will see at least one person sitting alone, out of the way, out of the action. When you see that relative sitting alone, not enjoying him/herself at all, please don’t immediately assume you have a hermit in your midst who would prefer to be alone. Rather, ask yourself if you might be looking at hearing impairment stealing the joy of the day from a loved one. Make the effort to go into the side room and talk in a quiet background that is not so demanding a listening environment.
Look at the person you are talking with, make eye contact. This shows respect and interest and will undoubtedly add layers to your understanding of this person who is part of your heritage. Also, many hearing-impaired individuals rely on lipreading even if they don’t know it. Visual distractions, like a dozen little ones darting around the tables, make lipreading much more difficult. While talking around the table can be lively and entertaining, one on one conversation builds relationships reminding the “loner” that he/she is a valued part of the family.
It is very disheartening to be left out of the festivities because of a handicap. Make no mistake, hearing loss is a handicap. It’s an invisible handicap. Hearing impaired people look like everybody else. They have always lived like everyone else, and they do NOT want that to change. Nobody asks to be hearing impaired. And, although our industrialized nation does offer unlimited opportunity to become hearing impaired, no single individual is to blame for their hearing loss. Too many times family gives up on trying to talk to gramma because it’s just SO much work. Take a moment and look at the situation through gramma’s eyes.
She used to be the one in the middle of the madness. She used to be the one chasing the little ones. She used to be the one comforting the injured. She used to be the one helping to solve life’s crises. She used to be the one rocking the babies to sleep. She used to be the one laughing and carrying on and have a jolly good time. She used to live. Please don’t leave her alone to think about the “used to be’s”. Help everyone to have “Happy Holidays”!