It’s quiet here in my room. I have the luxury of a room to myself these days. Mom had us move out of her condo last summer and the result was that the husband got his own sleeping room and I got the master suite. It is my living room, my office, my music room (my keyboard), my craft room (sewing machine and serger and cloth stash), my dressing room with a walk in storage closet, oh, and my bedroom with a king size bed. I practically live in here because it is quiet.
The rest of the house is open plan, kitchen, dining and great room, and the television is there. It is on most of our waking hours, and the volume is turned up because the husband has a hearing problem. It is the “not quiet” place in the house. When I go out to work in the kitchen I always have to ask him to turn it down. He starts talking to me whenever I appear, in a voice so soft that it cannot compete with the TV.
He does have hearing aids, and they do help, but they are not perfect. When he takes them out his world gets much more quiet. The loudest thing he hears is his own voice. It’s nearly impossible to have a normal conversation with him if he’s not wearing them. There is a lot of “what did you say?” and “I can’t hear you!” going on. I wish I could remember some of the things we’ve thought we said to each other. It’s funny how much some words sound alike.
Let’s face it. Hardly any of us are going to leave this world with perfect hearing, and most of the people who need caring for have some deficit in this area. We start noticing it in crowded restaurants, and it gets worse from there.
What a disadvantage this is for those in our care! My aunt and uncle are “safe at home” in a somewhat isolated country area. Their most frequent communication is by phone. When they have discussions with their financial advisor, or one of their doctors, they are worried that they might not be hearing correctly. They often have asked me to go with them to appointments before we were sheltering in place, but now they sometimes ask me to be on phone calls with them. Being that extra pair of ears is important.
My uncle doesn’t have hearing aids, and probably will never get them. He’s pretty good at conversations if he can look me in the face and do a little lip reading and assess the context. I’ve discovered that hearing aids have a stigma attached that many elders cannot get past. They also magnify sounds in a somewhat unbalanced way no matter how high tech and expensive they are. And they malfunction. I am often buying batteries, looking for batteries and fixing the husband’s hearing aids. It’s one of those pieces of equipment that call for the McGyver in me.
Right now the husband has picked up his trumpet, which he hopes to be able to play again – maybe even start a small band when he gets better. It’s sound/noise that he loves. The TV is his window on the world and about the only interesting thing he does. He needs the noise. I need quiet. It’s restorative for me, and I don’t feel guilty retreating to my sanctuary (well, maybe a little bit, sometimes…).