My Blog

May 26, 2017

Elderly Mothers and the Art of Hearing

Yesterday I took Mom with me to the Library where I did a presentation on Maximilian and Carlota for the library’s Brown Bag Luncheon. Blessings on the librarians, they do a wonderful job of advertising and we had a nice crowd. I was worried about Mom not being able to hear. Fortunately, I know that some of my friends have trouble hearing, so I always speak up–loudly. This time even Mom could hear me.

Afterward, we went out for lunch to a Salvadorean Restaurant called Carboneros. She ate with great gusto and even enjoyed a glass of white wine. A dear friend dropped by and she and I spent the meal catching up with each other. To my surprise, Mom seemed to be able to hear the conversation, even with loud music playing in the background, and another noisy table nearby.

Mom is bothered by not being able to hear well. She sits with the other residents at the Facility, waiting in a row to go into the dining room. That is their main entertainment. But she doesn’t participate in the conversations, or at least I don’t think she does. That has kept her from making friends. And friends are critical for her successful adjustment to living in the Facility.

Mom wears two hearing aids. No matter how much we spend on fixing them, however, there are still problems. She loses them in the sheets when she forgets to take them out at night. She forgets to change the batteries. She forgets she has batteries. And the hearing doctor claims she has too much wax in her ears to test her hearing. I’ll need to get with my sister to find out how to fix that.

Those of us (myself included) who have trouble hearing, are all too aware of how difficult it is be around other people when we can’t hear. I often just smile and nod. A ‘yes’ response usually works, although that has gotten me into trouble more times than I can count. Mom may have developed that habit too. I don’t know.

Usually, I find that those who are hard of hearing tend to speak very loudly. Most of the ladies who sit at Mom’s table don’t. They are very soft spoken, as quiet as little mice. It makes meals for Mom silent and thereby lonely affairs.

Participating in any of the activities requires some hearing. Bunko, Bingo, Bridge, even listening to music requires hearing. One of the ladies at Mom’s table (Mom took her ‘pew’ at the table), is almost totally blind, but she can chit-chat with others she meets in the halls. Mom can’t, or says she can’t.

I don’t know what to do to help her. And cochlear implants, which seem to be the in-thing at the moment, are out of the question. She’s 97, after all. If she wears both hearing aids, with fresh batteries, she seems to be able to do a little better. So I’ll change the batteries and try to encourage her to talk to her neighbors.

At least the staff, both in the dining room and in the office, are good about speaking up, loudly. Blessings on them!

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About Caroline Castillo Crimm

Retired Professor Emeritus from Sam Houston State University, interested in writing novels and speaking about topics such as the history of Latin American. Would like to share the AMAZING world of the 18th century in Northern New Spain, that's Spanish Texas and Mexico!

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