Highs and lows of looking after my hard-of-hearing mother
Celena Ross’s plans to ramp up her celebrant businesses were compromised when she found herself part of the sandwich generation of caring for her elderly mother and grandchildren. Faced with a loss of identity in her transition to semi-retirement, Celena established her website Retiree Matters to assist others.
Mum has hearing aids. She is very happy with them. Her last test before paying for them provided results of 50 per cent hearing when she was turned away from the specialist and 75 per cent hearing when facing him and able to watch his lips. So she says.
He must have been YELLING for mum to have achieved those results. No way, absolutely no way does she have that level of hearing. Even though she only wears one hearing aid. Yes, just the one. She can hear better she said with just one hearing aid! Whatcha say? Oh dear, is it wine o’clock yet?
Her hearing has been noticeably worse over the past few months and I have encouraged, reasoned, pleaded, asked her to wear both because she can’t hear. She answers with “if people would just look at me when they talk to me I can hear them” to “I can hear fine – it’s when people start mumbling I can’t hear.”
Her hearing got worse very quickly and although it seems to have stabilised now, holding a conversation is very difficult. I say something. Mum replies, “Whatcha say? I didn’t hear you”. I repeat myself. This goes on all the time. I feel sorry for the people that she plays cards with each week, but then again, many of them are hard of hearing. If mum doesn’t hear everything someone says she will simply fill in her own blanks or she has a way of pretending that she has heard.
So let’s give some examples you may identify with or one day you too might face a similar situation. Here are some examples of daily chats with mum. Where are the tips for coping with caring for an elderly mother? Or read as, virtually deaf elderly mother! Especially when she only wears one ruddy hearing aid. Is it wine o’clock yet?
We’re taking mum for a drive out for lunch. Mum is in the back seat and hubby and I chat in front. Mum will often just start a long conversation on top of our chat. Or, she hears some chatting noise, and then makes statements on a completely different topic to what we are talking about. Mum asks me questions, I turn my body and head towards the back and yell the answers back to her. Mum repeats my answers. Except what she repeats is nothing like what I have said. Hubby wonders if it is wine o’clock yet. Other times, I just giggle – oh dear! I do hope I don’t go deaf.
“Where are we going?” Mum asks. “We are going to the Marina Market’s first, then for lunch,” I reply. “Oh, where did you have brunch? Mum asks, adding, “Why did you have brunch first, you won’t be hungry for your lunch.” I just smile!
“Why are we going this way?” mum asks, noticing we are going a different direction. “I have to drop something off to Dave,” I reply. “Who? Who let off?” says mum, “I can’t smell anything? Did you let off?”
Mum rings and says, “You have my disabled sticker.”
“No I don’t,” I reply.
“Yes, you have it. The last time I saw it, was in your car. Go and have a look it must have fallen down the side of the car door.”
So I go look. “No mum I don’t have your disabled sticker.”
“Yes, you do,” she replies, “I used it last when I was with you on Sunday (it is now Friday).”
“No, you have been out with my brother since then.”
“No we couldn’t find it. You have it.”
“I will look for it tomorrow when I come around,” I reply.
“Hey? Whatcha say?”
“I WILL LOOK FOR IT TOMORROW WHEN I COME AROUND.”
“You found it in a round thing?”
“NO MUM! I WILL SEE YOU TOMORROW. BYE FOR NOW.”
Is it wine o’clock yet? And the next day, I find the disabled sticker, just like I do, every time mum says that I definitely have it. Usually caught up between her calendar or between loose paper on her breakfast bench.
I walk into mum’s unit and she’s crying. The cleaners (or somebody!) have stolen her disabled sticker – yep, that disabled sticker again. Or it’s money, her pastel art work she was going to have framed, a top, etc.
“No mum, they wouldn’t steal anything,” I say.
“Oh yes they would.”
“They get in her and talk and don’t clean very well,” she says between tears.
“Mum, calm down, remember every time you think something is stolen, I find it.”
“Whatcha say?” she asks.
“IT’S OK MUM. SIT DOWN AND I WILL HAVE A LOOK!”
“But I didn’t lose a book… I told you the cleaners have taken (insert item here)!”
Hmm, is it wine o’clock yet?
Mum tells me, “I’m going out with a friend and I have no money.”
“Why mum?” I ask.
“We took $400 out yesterday.”
“Well you must have kept it.”
“You have it. I can’t find the money. Why did you keep it?”
“I didn’t keep it mum. I put in in the drawer with your cheque book.”
“Whatcha say? You coming here to look for it? Why do you have it? Bring it back.”
“No mum, I don’t have it. Move your cheque book, it will be under that.”
“Sick? Are you sick? Why are you sick?”
“NO MUM I’M NOT SICK.”
“What? Oh, can you bring the money back? Lorna is coming to get me to take me out in a few hours.”
Is it wine o’clock yet?
So mum talks over us and on top of our conversation. Interrupts and starts her own conversation. Takes a conversation on a completely different area to the topic that we are discussing. Sometimes, it is very funny. Other times completely frustrating.
I feel so sorry for mum. She misses out on so much of what is been talked about and happening. I hope that I never go deaf, or have such hard of hearing issues.
I love mum, but is it wine o’clock yet?
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