Here we go again…its that time of year where we make all sorts of cliche New Years resolutions. We all make the typical “lose weight” “exercise more” types. Those are permanently affixed to every year’s list of resolutions for me.
As a person with significant hearing loss, there are some things which we can do that will make our lives more enjoyable. So here are some suggestions for New Years Resolutions.
- Develop and Enjoy a Hobby. As people with hearing loss, our communication challenges affect us in so many ways. Its easy to let this dominate our lives. So this is why I put this one at the top of the list of resolutions, because I feel it critical to develop and nurture our entire person. For me, I have taken up Archery. I love how archery calms me. In addition, It requires much practice and skill, so it challenges me. And it completely takes my mind off my hearing loss.
- Learn to use a new Communication Device. Have you tried captioning on your TV? Have you tried an FM system? Do you use your different programs on your hearing aid? This year, make it a goal to pick a device and learn to use it well.
- Learn a New Communication Technique. There are all sorts of behavioral ways we can learn to communicate better. Technology is only part of the story. Ask yourself questions such as “Do I always make sure I sit with the light behind me so I can see other people’s faces better for lip-reading?”, or “Do I use a specific clarification rather than just saying what or pardon me?”. Pick just one technique and try to apply this as much as you can.
- Take Action. This involves learning to be assertive, but not aggressive. I need to work on being a bit more assertive. For example, when I sit in a restaurant, sometimes I do not pick the best seat. The best seat would be one in which I can see as many faces as possible and where the background noise is behind me. All I need to do is just say to my dinner party “Do you mind if I sit there? It would help me communicate better.”
- Learn to Accept Things. Even with all the best technology and communication techniques, there are certain situations that may still be too challenging. For example, even though I may go out to a bar with friends, I cannot hear all the communication from all the people in my group. With the use of my FM system, I can, however, have conversations with one person at a time. Therefore I have learned to accept this limitation. I wish I could hear all the jokes zipping around me, but I can’t.
- Develop Calmness. Again, another one I need to work on. I am getting better, but sometimes I do get frustrated by my limitations. Normally, this drive I have to not let this hearing loss limit me is a good thing. It has driven me to become an audiologist, and learn to use all sorts of technologies and strategies to communicate better. But sometimes, we might hit a brick wall. I can get worked up by this and boil inside and its not healthy. This year, when I get that feeling, I will try to draw upon the calmness I am learning from Archery. (See how this all ties in together?)
- Teach a Loved One Communication Strategies. Communication is a two way street. I would say that perhaps unlike other disabilities, hearing loss always affects your love ones. Talking always involves at least one other person and as such, requires changes from communication partners. So take some time to teach one “significant other” some techniques. For example, my niece is likely the fastest talking teenager on planet earth. It is incredible how many words per minute she can say. I have worked on getting her to slow down when talking with me. Interestingly, she is now working as a waitress saving money for University next year and she has found that she does her job better when she slows down her speech for her customers. Win win!!
- Plan a Dinner with Good Communication Techniques. This one is a fun project. Scout out a restaurant that is low noise and has good lighting. Pick out a table that also fits these two criteria. Pick out a seat that allows you to see everyone and where your back is towards the background noise. Decide the number of people in the dinner party that you comfortably can communicate with. Think about the communication devices you will be using, such as an FM system. Think about the request for clarification techniques you will employ. And then make a reservation and enjoy!
- Read. For the majority of us, our sense of vision is just fine. Our eyes are an unimpaired portal to information. The more we read, the more we keep in touch with the world around us. Topics become more familiar, which assists greatly in lip-reading and hearing.
- Take Time for Family. Here’s another one for me. I get so wrapped up in dealing with my own hearing loss issues, that I sometimes do not see how things are with my family. Be sensitive to how your hearing loss affects your other family members. Be thankful for the things they are already doing to help you. Also, your family members have things happening to them, both good and bad. Make sure we take time to listen to them, rejoice in their successes, and help them with their challenges. Its not always just about us.