Last night HLAA presented a webinar featuring Sam Trychin. This seems to be a huge topic for those with hearing loss and even next months webinar deals with holiday headaches. Sam is a psychologist in private practice and provides consulting services to stairways behavioral health. Sam serves as the proceed if heal advisor to HLAA in the area of mental health. To view his website, go to http://www.trychin.com.
Holidays are tough, Sam says. Family members don’t know how to help us or if they do, they sometimes get caught in a conversation and forget we need a little help. He suggested a number of things to help which he called 8 Key Strategies for surviving the holidays and having a good time.
- Write notes or letters ahead of time to explain what helps you to be included.
- Place what to do signs around the house, such as “Don’t talk to Sam’s back.” “Slow down a little when you talk to Sam.”
- Wear a T-shirt with communication guidelines. He showed his holiday shirt with the 12 communication guidelines on the front and Happy Holidays and two ears on the back. Make it fun, he recommended. (Basic communication tips from HLAA, scroll down, not sure what his 12 are but this is an example.)
- Make appointments to catch up with family. If you haven’t seen a family member in a long time and they come to the gathering, ask him/her to schedule some time out for just the two of you.
- Anticipate difficulties. Think about where you are going such as the acoustics and what you can do to prevent problems like taking an ALD.
- Use relaxation techniques before and during the family gathering. (Susan brought this up at our last chapter meeting and gave a few exercises.)
- Use assistive listening devices (ALDs). They can make a big difference. A comment at the end of the webinar was that a lady felt embarrassed to be wearing one. Sam’s commented everyone wears something on their ears these days so we shouldn’t be embarrassed about what’s on ours.
- Smile a lot. Smiling triggers positive neurochemistry. It helps reduce stress.
A sense of hearing is essential to survival. Sounds travel faster to the brain than any other sense. Hearing loss shorts our ability to tune into auditory information provided by the environment, that can produce a kind of chronic level of tension and anxiety. Our family members also feel this tension, worrying about us hearing what we need to survive, like not stepping into traffic because we can’t hear what’s behind us. With our reduced sense of hearing, it’s important to stay within our environment in other ways. Here are 6 Key Strategies and Tactics to stay involved:
- Use ALDs
- Use alerting devices.
- Practice mindfulness and relaxation techniques to increase attention and alertness to external events. The calmer we are, the better we can pay attention.
- Fine tune our visual capacities. He suggested playing visual games to increase the powers of observation, even computer games.
- Anticipate environmental changes, from room to room, from house to car. Environments change.
- Get lots of sleep, rest and exercise with a proper diet.
Holiday dinners cause those with hearing loss social pain. We feel different and have little connection so we also feel like we don’t belong. We appear chronically irritable in these situations so we tend to want to avoid them but this escape is potentially dangerous. Avoidance works in the short term but in the long run it equals depression, loneliness and early mortality. A lot of times is the source of the problem is not the hearing loss. It’s not knowing what to do to prevent or reduce communication breakdowns. Sam says, “Find a support system!” Find a hearing loss chapter and go because you can reduce communication issues.
Sam gives another list tactics to avoid communication breakdowns:
- Learn to identify the cause of communication problems.
- Learn and practice guidelines to prevent/reduce communication problems.
- Identify and change unhelpful reactions
- Model your communication needs (our own Kathy is an excellent example of this).
- Increase awareness of body reactions.
- Catch yourself in automatic reactions to stress.
- Use this to enjoy the holidays.
The key to all this is practice, practice, practice Sam tells us. Practice especially the relaxation techniques like deep breathing in the car and smiling. “The simple act of smiling just changes what’s happening in your brain.” Then he recommended a book and DVD called “Relaxation Training” and the DVD is captioned.
The webinar drew to a close and he took a few questions from the audience. All in all, the hour went fast! It included a power point presentation making it easy to follow and a chat box to be able to ask questions. All of it was free.
The next webinar features Brad Ingrao on December 18 from 6pm-7 mountain time. He has a column in the HLAA Hearing Loss magazine. His topic will be The Gift of Hearing: Technology and Tips to Reduce Holiday Hearing Headaches.Description: Brad Ingrao, Au.D. has been using enabling technologies since the mid-1980s. As an early adopter of computer technology in audiology, Dr. Ingrao is recognized, and has served as a subject matter expert for several multinational hearing aid, audiology diagnostic equipment and hearing industry software companies.