With COVID-19 on every TV, laptop, and smart phone we are warned on every side to stay home and stay safe. While this mandate is keeping us from contracting an illness that as of yet has no known cure, it is exposing us to another illness that does have a known and effective cure. That illness is social isolation which leads to depression. Have you felt the effects? Wishing you could get out of the house? Looking for something to do? Wanting someone to talk to? My mom has started calling people from her church just so nobody feels too terribly alone. This is a great idea! I think staying home and staying safe is good. I think it is bringing back phone conversation, dinner around the table, and meaningful family interaction at home. All that is good.
It’s also giving folks with normal hearing a bit of a taste of what our elderly hearing-impaired loved ones feel every day. They would love to get out of the house but can’t because of mobility issues. They would love to have something to do, but they are alone and have cleaned the house as many times as they can. They would love to have someone to talk to, but their hearing is such that the phone is not a good option. The TV and laptop are just so frustrating they might as well not even be turned on. No news is better than bad news. This social isolation we are feeling as the “new normal” is old hat to those with hearing loss.
Hearing loss…that sounds so innocuous. What’s really lost is communication, relationships, independence, freedom. Hmm… that sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Hearing is essential. Please learn something from this Social Distancing experiment we are going through right now. This inconvenience we are dealing with today is a temporary lifestyle change for us. For folks with untreated hearing loss, it is not temporary and it’s more than just an inconvenience. It is socially isolating. It causes depression and loneliness. It causes loss of identity. It defines a person. It confines a person to a role they do not belong in. If you know someone with untreated hearing loss, make a point to reach out to them during this time of forced aloneness. Send them a card, it’s old fashioned but it works. Stop by the house and write messages to share through the window. Call them and speak clearly in a voice loud enough to be heard. Don’t lose your patience and don’t sigh. That always sounds like you are being bothered. No one really wants to be a bother.
If you know someone with hearing aids and they can’t get out to have them serviced, pick up the aids for them and bring them in to have them cleaned. We are taking precautions. We are here to help keep people healthy. Hearing healthcare is health care. Contrary to popular belief, hearing is not a luxury. It keeps people sane. During these crazy times, let’s all do our part to keep people mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy.