A checklist for individuals with hearing loss
Anyone who has ever flown in a commercial airplane has seen the flight attendant give the safety instructions: in the event of a loss in cabin pressure, you are informed, place the face mask on yourself before helping others. This makes perfect sense in such a context, but in our own daily living it may seem odd. For some people, it is really challenging to think of oneself first.
As a coach, I see people who are burned out, exhausted and overwhelmed – and one of the major contributing factors is often a lack of self-care. Self-care involves making the effort to consider various aspects of life (such as the physical, emotional, financial and professional components) and questioning ourselves. Am I living the life I want? Do I feel there is a purpose to what I am doing? Are there things I could be doing better? Are my days balanced with rich moments of calm, some stimulating, creative or exciting tasks, time for others and time for myself? These are just a few of the ways one can evaluate general quality of life.
If you have a hearing loss, there is an added layer of self-care needed. Being hard of hearing can add stresses and frustrations, and there is a whole gamut of new skills and tasks that require our attention. We have to learn more about hearing loss in general and our own hearing in particular. Being knowledgeable medically is important in all aspects of our health and we may need to devote some time to reading and consulting with professionals. Learning about hearing aids and assistive listening devices also takes time and effort, but it can make all the difference in making the very best of the hearing we have.
Developing the skills to advocate for our own needs can also be really challenging. Its a whole new skill set that takes persistence and patience – and a sense of humour. It can be a time for grieving the hearing we had and facing the reality of relationships that can be more* or less* than we may have expected. The courage to seek out supportive groups like CHIP (in Montreal), the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association, or the Canadian Hearing Society can pay off in finding resources and a new community of supporters who have walked the same walk as you.
In order to guide the process of becoming an expert in your hearing loss, I have created a checklist of over 50 goals to consider. The items on this checklist are meant to be guidelines to strive for – a sort of pathway to feeling in control of your hearing. You may find it necessary to have the assistance of a hearing health professional, an audiologist, an ALD technician, or a CHiP volunteer, peer mentor or instructor. A supportive family member or friend can also be a godsend. You may even want to try working with a coach.
So grab a pencil and a cup of your favourite relaxing beverage and see how you stand in evaluating your hearing-related competencies. You may find you have accomplished many of these items already- good for you! Or you may feel overwhelmed and unsure where to start. Don’t worry! In many cases, the goals will be longterm and require you to continue to learn and grow. And that’s always a good thing.
By Martha Perusse
Originally printed in the Fall 2016 issue of HEARHEAR Magazine