12 October 2016 – Courtesy of Wanganui Chronicle
Living with hearing loss can be difficult and frustrating for the hearing impaired as well as their family and friends, but there are ways to make it easier and there are ways to cope.
Anne Greatbatch is a hearing therapist with the Life Unlimited Charitable Trust and her job is to help the hearing impaired enjoy quality of life. She has a series of workshops coming up called Living Well with Hearing Loss. “People can live well with hearing loss but it’s like with any disability there are always smarter ways to manage it,” she says. “From a workshop perspective you learn from the experience of others in like situations.”
The ways people manage can be great motivators to those yet to learn. Learning from others in a similar situation is often a lot better than hearing it from a facilitator, she says. “There will be a component of practical experience of how best to problem-solve situations some people get themselves into on a day-to-day basis.” Part of the programme is designed to assist clients analyse situations that frequently occur. Their level of hearing loss remains constant but the dynamics can change with a visitor or number of visitors, for example. “What happens in those situations is similar to what others in the group experience. We talk on the run, we open the fridge or the cupboard and talk into it, or talk as we walk down the passage or running from one room to another. Analysing the situation, working out what just happened and what needs to happen to enable you to live well with hearing loss in that environment, without impacting on yourself or your significant other.” Anne says it’s not all about buying an expensive hearing aid, although she says there is a trend for hearing aid accessories, like a wireless microphone tuned to a hearing aid, so someone can talk at a normal level to someone with hearing loss, especially in a vehicle when the hearing impaired driver can not take his/her eyes off the road to look for visual clues. “We look at making gains where we can,” says Anne. “I try to start with what I can in a simple way for people to experience some success and give them enough knowledge that they can layer up and try further steps.”
The course is relevant for people with or without hearing aids. Some have hearing aids but feel unhappy with the results. This course is also for them.
“A lot of it is people’s adjustment to what’s realistic and what they can expect. What is within your power to change, and what do other people do?”
Anne will also look at dealing with hard to understand speakers and skills around speech reading – lip reading, interpreting body language and gestures and such.
“It’s safe, we’re independent and we’ll listen to every story.”
By Paul Brooks
Anne’s upcoming Whanganui workshop is now fully booked but please contact her on [email protected] if you’d like to add your name to the list for the next series.