Taking time out

When we lose our hearing, other senses and skills have to take over to compensate. Realising that we can no longer just listen or overhear effortlessly is a shock.

Instead of just relying on hearing to interpret speech and react appropriately. We have to concentrate constantly, to be aware of everything around us -not only lip movements but maintaining eye contact, facial expressions and body language too. We’re also struggling to pick up any residual sound and using all our thought processes to ‘get the gist’ of what’s being said.

The added concentration and energy necessary to follow a conversation or lipread can leave us feeling extremely tired.

We use several areas of the brain during a simple conversation, but a hard of hearing person has to think, concentrate and work much harder than a hearing person. We have to hear, and to lipread, and to correct what we have heard and seen.

Therefore, if you find that after an enjoyable conversation with the family or an outing for a meal with friends you feel completely washed out and longing for some personal space to gather yourself together and recharge your batteries – do not be surprised!

Communicating is exhausting so take time out for yourself to decrease stress and alleviate anxieties these both make listening and lipreading so much more difficult.

Make use of useful gadgets

The vibrating and flashing alarm on your phone can let you know when the cooker alarm is sounding or when the washing machine is done, or when it’s time to put your hearing aids back in and re-join the hearing world. But don’t forget to limit interruptions i.e. turn off your mobile telephone.

Take a break

Have frequent eye breaks. Refocus your eyes by looking at a different object – or practice eye yoga (easy exercises you can do anywhere – find them on the internet). Give yourself permission to stop paying attention and switch off your hearing aids. Determine how much time you need to take a break in every day and try and stick to it. You can take withdrawal breaks during the day, for example a walk at lunch time, reading on the bus on the way home. Maybe it would help by having some time on your own every day. Have a five minute nap like Winston Churchill.

Give yourself space

Create your own space – sewing room, study, garden shed, the corner of the living room – and keep your own favourite things there e.g. plant, photograph, ornament. Encourage others to respect your space.

Keep healthy

Join an exercise class (we know exercise is good for us – it releases endorphins) and tell the instructor that you have a hearing loss and need to be at the front as you may need to lipread. Ask them to turn off any music (you might be surprised that other class members don’t like background music either).

Enjoy yourself

Plan a regular lunch date with a friend or listen to very familiar music – its soothing because you don’t have to concentrate on listening and it may also help by stopping others expecting you to hear them.

People are generally happy to help if they know you have a problem, the problem with this is that they will forget. Keep reminding them, this is hard but it will pay off in the end.

Webpage published: 2018

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