September 27, 2012

The Empty Chair… and Hearing Loss

Parker,-Molly-NEWBy Dr. Molly Parker
Parker Audiology, PC

Much has been made of the Empty Chair Speech by Clint Eastwood recently. People with hearing loss sometimes feel like an empty chair…they are there but not really there. We all have days where we feel like circumstances drive us, and we no longer have an active role in our lives. This is one reason I spend much time talking with family members about realistic expectations.

To the hearing impaired individual, hearing aids do not need to be the super complicated devices that you’ve come to fear. Hearing better can actually be a comforting thing after the initial adjustment period. Also, consider that if you are hearing information accurately, you will more likely interact with others, which will help to keep your mind, heart and soul active. Using hearing aids is only a part of hearing better. The other part is re-learning what is normal and not normal, and that it is OK to realize that other people sometimes mumble. That is not your fault, because you have no control over that. You are only responsible for your job of listening better. Other people have their own responsibilities for talking more clearly, looking at you, etc. (but kind and frequent reminders are
necessary for awhile).

To the family and friends of the hearing impaired person, I ask you to remember that your spouse, parents or friends are an accumulation of a lifetime of wisdom and experience. Death and dying is at the forefront of many older seniors’ minds; living for the moment is something that is often put off considering health concerns. Additionally, many with hearing loss are fearful about learning something new and then forgetting. Compassion with your parents and friends is important when you are trying to convince them they are not hearing well. Remember that they do not understand what kind of effort that you go through to include them and have them hear you.