A to Z Challenge: Letter Y for Yelling

Well, it’s not just about yelling. It’s about communicating. When communication is not easy, and is possibly frustrating, yelling can be involved and it begins with Y. I am an opportunist when I have to be. Most of these problems have to do with diminished hearing, poor eyesight, and diminished attention.

Yelling makes people look mean.

Is there a lot of missed communication going on at my house? Sometimes it feels that way. Here are some common scenarios…

The husband thinks I’m listening to him (he may have seen me close by) and starts talking to me while looking elsewhere. He doesn’t know I’ve left and am two rooms away. When I realize he’s talking away to an empty room, I come back, frustrated and have to ask him to repeat.

In the morning when he comes out for his cup of cocoa and sits in the corner recliner. He doesn’t usually have his hearing aids in yet. I ask him what he wants for breakfast but he doesn’t hear. I raise my voice until he tells me I don’t have to yell. We both feel embarrassed.

In the morning he comes out for his cup of cocoa and he DOES have his hearing aids in. I ask him loudly what he wants for breakfast and he jumps and puts his hands over his ears.

“What?! You didn’t tell me that!” This is often said about something that was being discussed in conversation with a group of family or friends. I can understand that it’s hard to admit (or even know) that you’re not hearing what you can’t hear. It’s easier to fake it and assume that someone will get your attention if it’s important. But, dear hard of hearing person, no one knows you haven’t heard…

If you’re caring for an elder, it’s safe to assume that most everyone who is up there in age has some degree of hearing loss. Okay, I don’t have young ears either.

Hearing in noisy environments or over a phone are other risks to good communication. My uncle, who hears fairly well in face to face conversation, gets a little nervous with phone conversations. He sometimes asks me to join him on calls with his financial advisor, not because I’m a financial genius either. He wants to make sure he is hearing things correctly. And who hasn’t faked it in a noisy restaurant? Nod and smile, that would be me.

To make matters more complicated, people who are hard of hearing often hear their own voice through bone conduction. It sounds very loud, so they talk softly and can barely be heard. The husband does this with the result that he can’t hear me and I can’t hear him either. Somehow, even when I’m not angry, having to yell makes me feel like I’m being mean. I don’t like yelling.

We are getting better at communicating. Here are some things we’ve done to lessen the volume and make sure important things are heard.

1. I try to get the TV volume or other noise, turned down before I speak.

2. I look at the person I’m talking to so I know if they are listening, and if they know I’m talking to them. I try to get my husband to do this as well.

3. I communicate plans for the day, important news, etc… directly when there are no competing voices. I try not to assume something has been picked up from conversations with others.

4. Whenever I see confusion, I ask questions to see if there is a misunderstanding.

5. I often leave a written note.

So, back to yelling. I don’t like it. It doesn’t make for good communication and most of the time, even if I’m not mad or frustrated, it makes me feel like I’m being mean and ineffective as a caregiver. When I’m well rested, in my right mind and remembering my above mentioned tips, the communication is much improved. Just sayin’…

A to Z Challenge: Letter Q for Quiet

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.

Who says men can’t multi-task. Two screens at once is common.

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.

For those who have not yet experienced these, they are hearing aid batteries. Tiny things.

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…).