DEAR ABBY: As the executive director of the Hearing Loss Association of America, may I suggest that "Mortified at the Dinner Table" (March 2), who wrote about her in-laws' poor hearing even with hearing aids, connect with one of our 200-plus local HLAA chapters at www.hearingloss.org? These member-led groups offer emotional support, camaraderie, communication strategies and techniques for living with hearing loss, both for people who have hearing loss as well as their families and friends. Most chapters also share information about assistive listening devices that link via a telecoil found in most modern hearing aids that could greatly enhance her in-laws' hearing around the dinner table.
"Mortified" might also want to accompany her in-laws to a hearing aid evaluation visit at an audiologist's office to learn more about their particular hearing difficulties. There is more to correcting hearing loss than buying hearing aids. Some users benefit from assistive listening devices or from listening training that can be done at home with a personal computer.
By joining HLAA, "Mortified" can receive Hearing Loss Magazine and get the latest information about hearing loss and how to live well with it. -- ANNA GILMORE HALL
DEAR MS. HALL: Thank you for your letter and the information you generously provided. Any reader with hearing loss should check out the HLAA website for a more detailed description of the services it provides. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: Many people who wear hearing aids find noisy environments problematic. As people age, their ability to understand can be difficult even with hearing aids. As a practicing audiologist, I recommend the following to my patients to help make communication easier.
(1) Test hearing annually so hearing aids can be reprogrammed to current hearing levels if necessary.
(2) Follow up with the audiologist for regular hearing aid maintenance and care.
(3) In restaurants, ask to be seated away from high noise level areas; preferential seating may help.
(4) Reserve confidential discussions for another time and location, which would make them easier for people with hearing loss to understand. -- AUDIOLOGIST IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR ABBY: My 91-year-old mother is hard of hearing. I take her out to dinner once a week.
I don't worry about what people around us are thinking. It doesn't matter what she wants to talk about. I'm just glad she's able to get out and converse with others. The conversations at tables near us are sometimes so obnoxious that I'm GLAD my mother can't hear them.
People are normally very courteous about helping me with her, and many have told me they wished their parents were still alive and able to have dinner with them. -- JUDY IN ARIZONA
DEAR ABBY: Your advice to "Mortified" was certainly not taking into account the other diners' feelings that this writer was so admirably describing! Everyone around that table paid for -- and deserves -- to have a pleasant dining experience too. This includes not being subjected to others' cellphone conversations, unruly children or excessively loud conversations regardless of their content. -- MARIANNE IN WASHINGTON