Mother's Day: Help your mom be part of the conversation
Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate and honor those who play that valuable role in our lives. Whether it is your mother, stepmother or someone else who stepped in to take on that role, she deserves a special day to let her know just how much she means to you. Many of us plan parties, special brunches or family gatherings to celebrate Mother’s Day, and some of us just plan a quiet visit with Mom enjoying each other’s company. You may have made brunch reservations, or perhaps you’ve ordered her favorite flowers, but have you planned for her hearing loss?
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), one third of Americans between ages 65 and 74 and almost half of those over age 75 have hearing loss. As a matter of fact, hearing loss is the third most common chronic health condition facing older adults. Although older men are twice as likely to have hearing loss as women between the ages of 20 and 69, women are certainly not immune. And after the age of 80, studies show that rates of hearing loss become just about equal.
So if your mother has hearing loss, there are steps you can take to make sure she has the most enjoyable Mother’s Day possible, and that she knows how much you mean to her.
- Face to face is best. When you are talking to your mom, whether it is to wish her a happy Mother’s Day, tell her how much she means to you or just to catch her up on your life, make sure you talk to her face to face. It is much easier for a person with hearing loss to understand what you are saying when they can see your lips move.
- Talk at eye level. Try to be at the same level as your mother when explaining to her that you remembered from when you were little how much she liked peonies. That way it will make it easier for her to see you as well as hear you.
- Use light to your advantage. If you are visiting your mom at her home, make sure to take advantage of the beautiful May weather; sit outside to visit, or just open the drapes to let the sunshine in. Gray day? Turn on the lights in the room. She wants to see your gorgeous face, after all.
- Positioning is everything. Perhaps your mom might enjoy taking a walk through a local botanical garden on Mother’s Day. While you are walking with her, try to position yourself on the side with her “good ear,” if she has a preference. Also make sure to get her attention before talking to her.
- Don’t shout from another room. Maybe a nice relaxing visit at home, yours or hers, is what your mom prefers to do on Mother’s Day. If you are enjoying a visit at home and want to ask your mom if she needs a refresher for her iced tea, or where the vase is for the flowers you brought for her, don’t yell from the other room. Walk in and talk to her face to face.
- Speak clearly. For some moms, Mother’s Day is a chance to walk down memory lane and revisit stories from your childhood. Do you want to reminisce about the time you cut down all of the neighbor’s prized roses and brought them to her in a bouquet? No need to shout. Just speak clearly and distinctly, and don’t use slang. Your mom will appreciate the chance to share the old stories and have a laugh or two. (Let’s just hope the statute of limitations has expired on your childhood antics.)
- Don’t cover your mouth. Remember all of those times your mom chided you to keep your hands away from your face when talking? Well, that still applies. Don’t do anything to block your mouth while talking to your mom, as it will be easier for her to understand what you are saying if she can see your lips move.
- Quieter is better. If visiting with Mom at home, turn the TV or radio down. If you are having a family get-together, try to converse with her in a quiet room with fewer people.
- Take turns. If there are multiple family members gathered, make sure to take turns speaking. This is especially an important reminder for the grandchildren, who are probably so excited to see Grandma that they tend to talk over one another!
- Minimize background noise. Perhaps you have made brunch reservations for Mother’s Day at her favorite spot. The clattering background noise at a restaurant can make it extremely difficult for a person with hearing loss to hear normal conversation. Try to select a quiet, out-of-the-way table. If your mom has a “good” ear, make sure you position her at the table with that ear toward the conversation, so she can hear what everyone is saying and participate.
- Stay by her side. If you happen to be celebrating Mother’s Day at a restaurant, seat yourself in the best position to help her understand what the server is saying. Make sure to have the patience to repeat the specials if necessary. It’s her special day, and you’ll want to make sure they get her order exactly right.
- Be attentive. Make sure to help your mom if you notice her struggling to understand the story about the funny incident in algebra class her teen grandchild is telling. Remember, she wants to be included in the conversation.
Remember, flowers, candy, and a card are all lovely, but what your mom wants most is a chance to have an enjoyable Mother’s Day. By paying close attention to her hearing needs you can ensure that even with hearing loss she is part of the conversation and truly “Queen for a Day.”