The trials and tribulations of getting mum used to her new hearing aids
Celena Ross’s plans to ramp up her celebrant businesses were compromised when she found herself part of the sandwich generation of caring for an elderly mother and grandchildren. Struggling with the unexpected hours of caring and faced with a loss of identity in her transition to semi-retirement, Celena established her website Retiree Matters to assist other corporate women.
Depressed and increasingly social isolated, mum finally received some good news – my request for her new hearing aids had been approved. This was a shock to us as it was approved three years earlier than the standard pensioner replacement time of five years.
Unfortunately, on the day of the hearing aid appointment, I was still suffering from dizziness, brought about according to my doctor from an intense three months of caring for mum after she had had a fall. Instead, my 40-year-old son took his granny and returned her to my place all smiles.
Wearing the small microphone shaped like a USB, clipped onto our tops, mum could hear us when she was in the kitchen and we went into the loungeroom. Again, with it clipped on my son who tends to mumble at times, she could hear him clearly. Placing the device in front of the TV, for the first time in years mum could hear the TV. She could even hear it without the USB microphone device, just with her new hearing aids.
It was smiles, high-fives and happy times.
Gone will be the days of saying “Whatcha Say?”and then hanging up on the phone because she can’t hear.
I went to Mum’s to drop off some shopping and check up on her but there was a problem, she couldn’t hear the TV. She was pushing volume buttons up and down on the remote device that ‘talks’ via Bluetooth to the USB microphone. “Stop,” I explained. It was the TV remote she needed to push as she had it on silent! I explained with the new hearing aids and devices she could have it on at a level that I could sit and listen to the TV with her.
I wrote out very simplified instructions regarding how the remote device she wore around her neck, ‘talked’ to the USB microphone.
No light = OFF
Green light = ON
Blue Light – Bluetooth connected – the devices could ‘talk’ to each other
Red Light – Turning Off (then would have no light).
After a couple of practise runs she understood. Mum was planning on taking it to cards and was going to clip the USB to the side of her little water bottle cover.
I rung mum to let her know what time my husband and I will pick her up to take her out for lunch as we normally do each Sunday.
“How did you go yesterday at cards with your hearing aids and the USB microphone?” I asked.
“I lost it,” she replied. “I lost the microphone. I think it might have been caught up at the end, in the tablecloths, or card packs when it was all been packed up.”
I rang the card organiser and told her but they didn’t see it anywhere. My husband and I went to the retirement village to look for her hearing aid. My husband retraces the road, path, and into the centre where she played cards at the retirement village. He looks in drains, curbs, driveway ramps but there was no sign of it. I look in her two handbags, purse, zip compartments, but again there was no sign of it. I even look all over her scooter.
“Oh,” she said. “When I came back the scooter was extra noisy. I think something must have been misplaced when I went over the road bumps.” She added, “There is something wrong with the phone ringing volume. I could only hear it, because I was standing next to it.”
My husband walks into her room and within seconds finds the USB microphone in front of the TV.
“I thought that you said you left it in the centre yesterday afternoon?” I asked.
“Oh,” says mum. “You found it – where was it?”
“In front of the TV,” I reply.
“Oh, well I can’t remember putting it there. I must have put it there when I came back and forgot.”
“Anyway,” she added. “It doesn’t work. It’s useless, I can’t hear the TV.”
I look at the device. “That is because it is turned off,” I say calmly. “You have to turn this on and the remote device, where are the sheet of instructions? I wrote out about the colours!”
I set her hearing aid up again and we test it. Everything works fine so off we go to lunch. My son clips the USB onto his shirt and yes, granny can hear him.
Then. “Oh, the background noise is so noisy, ” said mum.
“Stand up and look behind you – there is nothing there!” I respond.
Mum looks, “Well there is loud background noise.”
“That is just the general noise of the RSL lunch area. Your brain has to readjust and get used to been able to hear again.”
Mum goes to the loo, when she comes back she says, “Oh the toilet is so loud and noisy.”
Great her new hearing aids are working – they might need the volume adjusted. Mind you mum has pushed volumes up and down so much since the audiologist had set them.
Lunch over – mum heads into the pokies to play her $5 at 1 or 5 cents a push. She is very happy. She can hear and she wins $5!
After two days of some busyness caring for hubby who had an eye operation, I finally get time to ring mum. Without enquiring how my hubby is – who does so much for her also – mum says, “I want you to take the hearing aids and everything back. They are too noisy. The microphone doesn’t work. The volume of everything is too loud – to much background noise.”
I try and explain that the audiologist said it will take some time, to readjust to hearing and to preserve.
Mum replies dogmatically and emphasising her words, “I SAID TAKE THEM BACK. I DON’T WANT THEM. THEY ARE TOO NOISY AND DON’T WORK.”
Mum explained that she spoke to another woman who had something similar – and how she stopped using them and reverted to her old hearing aids.
Mum says she has packed everything back into the box and that I am to come and pick them up and take them back. Mum has the Bluetooth remote and USB microphone on trial for just over a fortnight before paying $550 for those – the hearing aids are free replacements. Remember, because she was crying from depression with her social isolation from not been able to hear and people ignoring her.
I try to explain it is like rehab after a hip operation. You have to keep working at the exercise for improvement. Same with the hearing aids, you just have to keep wearing them, persevere to get used to them and retrain the brain.
Mum replies, that there are at least five deaf people at the RSL cards and none of them have a remote device or microphone. Well I reply aren’t you lucky you do have these to help you with your hearing.
“I don’t want them. I am using my old hearing aids. I want you to TAKE IT ALL BACK,” she says.
I respond, “I can’t hear you. Whatcha say?” I hang up.
It is time for a Bailey’s on the rocks! Time is 9.30am.
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