My Blog

November 18, 2015

Elderly Mothers and the Mute

“I can’t hear you!”

I was shouting because I couldn’t hear Mom over the 150 decibel television program. I was also yelling “Mute!” “Mute!” I finally went over and hit the mute button on the remote. In the blessed silence, I asked what it was she wanted.

The mute button

The mute button

Watching television with Mom is a challenge.  We’ve been learning the remote for some time now but she still seems to be having problems with understanding its complexities. I think she has figured out the ‘Guide’ and the channel choices and understands how to ‘Select’ a channel. It’s the ‘Mute’ that seems to be causing us problems.

Part of the difficulty is that she is getting deafer. I bought her hearing aids last year but they “don’t work.” We could go back and get them reprogrammed but she still doesn’t think they help her hearing. Therefore, the television sound has to be set at 96 or 97on the set, making conversation virtually impossible without pressing the ‘mute’ button.

I have learned to speak loudly in her presence. I don’t turn my back when I am talking to her, or say anything I want her to hear if I am too far from her, or heaven forbid, in another room. Frequently, she will miss-hear what I’ve said. I try hard not to repeat it—for the third time—in a red-faced, throat-clenching scream.


The Kitchen preserves my hearing

The Kitchen preserves my hearing

I also try to get her to mute the TV during commercials so that we can, oh, I don’t know, maybe communicate?  Staring at the TV, she doesn’t seem to realize that a commercial has come on. Usually, of course, they come on at an even louder volume (Do the companies pay to have their commercials come on louder? I swear they do!).  Eventually, she might click to the fact that it is a commercial and then she presses the ‘mute’ button. Silence. She does know where it is.

Then, while still staring at the screen, she doesn’t seem to realize that the program we were watching has come back on. Ellen or the weather guy or her beloved Pat and Vanna are flapping their jaws but there is no sound. Mom has forgotten to press the ‘mute’ button to regain the sound. That, too, takes a while to register.

I usually watch television with her while she is eating her supper. This way, I can stay in the kitchen, prepare her tray, put it in front of her, and wait, in the kitchen, until she is done. Then I pick up the tray, wash the dishes, dry them and put them away. (She insists on an empty drainboard).

The OC uses ear plugs while watching. I just suffer in silence, or, rather NOT silence. But I have learned to grab the remote. I CONTROL the remote! Call it my little rebellion. We don’t listen to commercials. And we don’t miss any of the program when it comes on again.

Richard is coming to tea

Richard is coming to tea

So, once the sound was muted and I could hear her again in the eerie stillness, she said she had planned a tea party for a church friend at 1:30 tomorrow afternoon. Seems that is why she bought the two little boxes of chocolate covered caramel and iced pretzels when we went to the grocery store yesterday. And she didn’t tell me.

And I only have a Board Meeting from 11:30 to 12:30, and a lunch at 1:00 pm and I am supposed to be in Houston (2 hours away) at 7:00 pm. So much for my plans.

But stay tuned, there WILL be a blog about the tea party tomorrow!

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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