Be patient with family members with hearing loss: Listen well and you may learn something new
As our parents, and grandparents become older, reaching 70’s-90’s, it is easy to unintentionally edge them out of conversation when family gets together. It happens subtly and continues consistently.
Hearing loss is a key reason this occurs, as it is more challenging to communicate when someone is experiencing hearing loss and hearing aids are not working as desired. There may be too much feedback for the wearer, or it does not fit well or the sound adjustment is off all causing frustration for the parties involved.
Naturally, to compensate for hearing issues, people speak louder affecting other conversations in the room.
In the end, family members engage less with that parent or grandparent leaving them literally sitting on the edge of conversations, not being able to hear, not being asked to contribute and feeling like they do not matter.
It is so important to be aware that this can occur, especially as we begin to re-engage face to face and host family events. Remember, that every moment you have to spend time with that particular family member is priceless. Once they are gone you do not get it back and if you keep this in mind, it helps to honor rather than resist being around them.
Purposefully ask about their lives: what was life like when they were younger, going to school, or what do they miss about a certain decade for example. Oral history is how legacy is passed. They can share experiences that are no longer being lived. You may learn something new and your time together will become one of interest and intrigue rather than one of frustration and challenge. It will anchor the value each individual brings to the family tree.
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