CFN – Another holiday week-end has come and gone without any public transportation for those who need it. One of the newspapers ran a column on what was open or closed which was helpful but I couldn’t help but wonder how it felt to be unable to attend anything if getting there depended on being able to access public transportation. Two people told me that Brockville, a smaller city than ours, has transportation every day. Why can’t we have it? Please call or write the mayor and/or your city councillors to ask them to at least consider it. It is the least we can do to help those in need. Even limited service would be helpful and make these holiday week-ends more enjoyable. Any public transportation on Sundays and holidays would help make the day less long and lonely for some people.
One caller mentioned that maybe if the city didn’t want to provide public transportation on Sundays and holidays that an entrepreneur might have a chance to start a business which would supply this need. Anyone interested?
A caller mentioned that the Seniors’ Residences should go ahead and try having a caterer in on a daily basis while waiting for the government to put in cafeterias. Even if only a small number of people took advantage of the meals at first, they would be better nourished, which is good health prevention. There could also be ‘take-ups’ which are ‘take outs’ you take upstairs to your apartment for those who want it.
Hearing loss is a big problem for everyone who experiences it, especially for some seniors who can’t afford to buy one hearing aid, let alone two. Some audiology clinics are offering new hearing aids at a lower rate than usual, or discontinued lines, or the fee inclusive of the Assisted Device Program of five hundred dollars off each aid. Still, the balance to be paid remains a problem for some seniors. A lot of seniors do not have credit cards or want to use them for a large amount of money and a monthly payment plan is a source of anxiety as it must be paid each month when the person needing the aids may be already just scraping by.
Unless a benefactor steps up to the plate and helps the one in need of an aid, he or she has to go without. One lady told me that she had not heard well in about six years. She had no one to help her financially, so she did without. She had to give up playing cards and some other activities because she thought she was driving everyone crazy constantly having to ask them to repeat, especially when they had their heads down holding their cards. Another lady told me that, although she needed two aids, she did have one but it was very old and in need of repair. It was in her drawer and destined to stay there. She spoke very loudly, unable to hear the tone of her own voice. Recently a woman was told she would have a five hundred dollar balance to pay if she bought an aid. She didn’t have the money, so she didn’t get it.
I know a lady who has needed two aids for over three years. I see her trying to lip-read and leaning forward to hear better. Money in this case is not the problem. She is afraid it will make her look old. Hearing loss is not an old age thing. Some people are born hard of hearing or deaf or, as in my case, it happens along the way.
A few years ago I was on a Seniors’ Advocacy Committee. We ran a five hundred person survey at some of the Seniors’ Residences to find out how good or bad the situation was concerning the financial need to buy hearing aids, glasses and dentures or have dental work done. It was as we suspected. The percentage was very high. The respondents who couldn’t afford these things said that they just had to do without. We were working with our local MPP at the time who was very interested and concerned about the problem. Since prevention is the best medicine and lack of these devices can bring a whole range of medical problems, we were hoping to get some funding to help the seniors who were in need and help save health dollars, but it didn’t happen. Apparently, if you are sixty-four you can get assistance but not if you are sixty-five. Two people from Alberta told me that when you are sixty-five Blue Cross kicks in with all its’ benefits for the seniors. We could use that in Ontario.
I lost a lot of my hearing when I was forty-six. I didn’t realize it but I had already started to lip-read, which is common. I was lucky at the time because my health insurance at work paid for two hearing aids (minus the ADP rebate). It began a very stressful period of adjustment which I did not handle very well despite two good aids and other devices for my phone , etc. I changed my hair-do to hide the aids I was wearing. As a nurse I had to hear correctly and whenever I took an order over the phone from a doctor I would repeat it back twice just to make sure I had heard it correctly. If the doctor had an accent I listened to that order like my life depended on it. I started second-guessing myself and what I was hearing. I started not sleeping well because I had to take my aids out of my ears at night . I didn’t feel safe any longer. I didn’t trust my hearing for emergencies without my aids. What if there was a fire and I didn’t know it? What if?…What if..? Sometimes I would wake up in the night and I would be sure I had heard the phone ring or the doorbell chime. No phone had rung. No doorbell had chimed. It was hard to get back to sleep. Sleep deprivation crept in and I would drive out to St. Raphael’s to work in the morning very tired. I think I whined and complained to anyone who would listen about those ‘plugs’ in my ears. I was off-balance and couldn’t get my serenity back. I felt exhausted for a long time.
I decided to join a few clubs and boards which were organized to help other people with various disability issues. At some of the meetings were people who were deaf and there were signers there to help. Gradually the day came when my griping turned to gratitude that I could hear at all. I no longer cared if someone saw the aids in my ears. If I had to ask someone to repeat a word, so be it. I would do my best and that’s all I could do. The stress went away. My sense of humor returned. Life was good again. After all, I could hear the most beautiful sound in the world – my Mother’s voice. I had the most wonderful Mother anyone could have had.
The reason I am writing about this struggle I had is because there are a lot of people who seem to believe that all you need to do is get a hearing aid in your ear and all the problems are solved. If you ever attend a meeting of a Hard of Hearing club, you will discover, listening to the people who are there for help and guidance, that the adjustment it is not that easy.
Here is a short synopsis by Jim Hill, which I have kept for some years:
“I AM HARD OF HEARING. Make sure you have my full attention before you begin speaking to me. Speak more slowly and clearly, taking time to ‘round off’ words. Don’t shout or use highly exaggerated speech. Do not speak with anything in your mouth such as a pipe or cigarette. Take care to keep your hands away from your mouth so I can see your lip movement and facial expression.
I may be bothered by background noise (T.V., stereo, etc.) Please face me when you speak to me. If I am having trouble understanding a word or phrase, please rephrase it rather than repeating it.
I am wearing a hearing aid. Don’t assume I have excellent hearing. I will have difficulties and I will benefit from your consideration.
Don’t ridicule me. My skin may be thicker than yours but I am still sensitive. If I am not feeling well or I am tired at the end of a long day, I may have more difficulty than usual.
I am hard of hearing Be patient with me and I will count you as a friend.”
For the hard of hearing, having a conversation can be like putting together the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle at times.
If you need financial assistance to get a hearing aid, please let our local MPP know so he can direct your problem to a department of our health system which might be able to help you. Maybe if he gets enough calls or letters, things might change.
I have a friend, Elaine, who has two hearing aids. She is very ill right now in hospital and I dedicate this column to her. I miss her so much because we have so much fun together. I tease her about being Irish. Irish is wonderful…..She wears it well.
Everything seems funnier in church where you are not really supposed to snicker or laugh, or so I learned the hard way as a child. One evening Elaine wanted to go to church early to go to Confession. We always sit near the front of the church where she seems to hear better and I like to sit there because I feel so much more a part of what is going on during the Mass. This night when she returned to our pew after her confession she was upset and said in a rather loud whisper that she didn’t know what her penance was because she didn’t hear a word the priest had said. When I asked her why not, she said that she didn’t have her hearing aids in. The man in front of us laughed out loud.
Elaine is fun to be with. One stormy day I left my car at home and we took a cab together. We were kibitzing back and forth and the cab driver was smiling a lot. Finally, after some teasing comment she had made to me, I said to her that she was Irish, but I was normal. The cab driver gave a hoot and laughingly said: “Lady, have you looked up ‘normal’ lately?” When we arrived at our destination he told us that we had made his day and that he hoped to see us again because he had enjoyed our company so much.
Another time we were in church on Christmas Eve. We went early to get a good seat, again near the front. All was calm and peaceful. There was almost an air of expectancy that night. It was beautiful to be there in all that peace and joy. I looked around the church at all the murals of angels. I whispered to Elaine how wonderful it would have been to be with the shepherds and sheep that first Christmas Eve when all of a sudden the sky filled with angels singing praises to God. I said that I would never be the same. I asked her what she would do? She whispered very loudly: ‘ I’d pass out.’ Everyone around us laughed and chuckled. So much for awe and wonder.
Get well soon, my friend. Going to church without you isn’t any fun.
Here’s a joke from the Funny Farm: The farmer went to the big city to buy a used car. He was amazed at the prices ranging from $6,000 and up. As he was leaving the lot he spotted a for sale sign on the windshield of a Cadillac advertised at ‘$1500 as is’. He told the salesman that he would buy it. As the deal was being closed, the salesman admitted that there was one minor problem with the car. It didn’t have any reverse. The farmer replied, “I’m going to buy it anyway. I’m not coming back.”
Have a good week, Dawn
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