Hearing to the Max a new hearing loss management book for those with hearing loss and their families
Dr. Brené Brown the renowned vulnerability researcher recently wrote that “Fitting in is the greatest barrier to belonging.” Research has demonstrated that humans adjust their actions to be more aligned with that of their peers in an ongoing effort to not stand out from the group, to not be perceived as different.
When those with hearing loss make an effort to improve hearing beyond the limitations of what technology (e.g.: hearing aids) can provide, they find they need to set themselves apart from others. They need to draw attention to their difference. They need to discuss their hearing loss. They need to tell others what they need them to do. They need to step outside of the comfort of conformity; and by our very nature, we find this difficult.
Imagine the Following Conversation Between a Patient and His Audiologist
Mr. Andrews confides in his audiologist that he is considering leaving his ROMEO group. Seeing his audiologist’s quizzical expression, he adds, “You don’t know what that is do you, Doc?”
He explains that ROMEO stands for Retired Old Men Eat Out and that as much as he looks forward to these once-a-month gatherings, in recent months he finds he anticipates them with at least an equal amount of dread. As he explains to his audiologist, “What makes lunches like this enjoyable is a combination of good food and good company. I’m finding as my hearing gets worse, I’m losing the good company. I strain too much to follow the conversations, others will laugh and I’ll have no idea what the joke was, and I leave the lunch frustrated and exhausted. It’s just becoming too much.”
“Well, I suspect these lunches have been something important to you and that this decision is one you aren’t making lightly. May I make a suggestion?” After a nod, the audiologist continues with the following:
“Perhaps you could start lunch by saying, You all know I have trouble hearing sometimes. What you might not know is that I’ve been missing a lot of our conversations for some time. So that I don’t need to interrupt all the time asking for repetitions when I miss something, I want to show you two signs. This means to slow down for me (pumping an open hand, palm downward) and this means to speak just a bit louder (palm upwards and moved slightly up and down). I know you guys probably know I need these things, but I’m sure if I were you I wouldn’t always remember. Is it OK if I use those signs when I need them.”
The audiologist concludes with, “What do you think, Mr. Andrews. Is that something you would be comfortable doing?”
Mr. Andrews gives a warm smile and chuckles softly. “No, I don’t think I could do that in a restaurant. It’s a bit too much.”
“Well, perhaps,” the audiologist says. “But are you willing to stop going to your lunches without giving it a try? What do you think the group would say if you said all this?”
“I don’t know,” he reflects softly.
“Well, I suppose none of us really know until you try it. But I suspect they’ll look at you a little funny, shrug their shoulders and say, ‘Sure, why not?’ I think they’ll see the benefits of the suggestion. Besides, what’s the worst thing they could do? Ask you to stop coming to the group? Then you’d be right where you are now, so you wouldn’t have lost anything. And do you think they would do that? Would you do that to one of them?”
Hearing to the Max openly acknowledges that the provision of communication guidelines or suggestions without discussion of comfort in the use of these guidelines often fails intent. One of the driving forces behind living with any handicap is trying not to draw attention to the handicap or how the individual is different from others. In examples throughout, but primarily in sections titled, "No more ROMEO," "My Son-In-Law Hates Me," and "The Talking Stick," readers are guided through the important introspection often required to better assert their needs along with step-by-step guidance on how to make the use of communication management techniques a life-long habit.
Available through Amazon.com, Hearing to the Max is perfect for office waiting rooms or as patient giveaways to support hearing success. In recognition of Better Hearing and Speech Month in May, the price has been reduced 15% until May 31, 2022.