By Constance Metropulos, Au.D.
Happy Holidays from my family to yours! As this beautiful time of year is upon us, I would like you to reflect on all the memories of the past and rejoice in all the memories you will create with your family, friends, and loved ones this year. As a proud part of the Different Brains team, it is my goal to guide all of you in understanding the hearing and clarity challenges of communication during the holidays. It is my hope to give you tools and inspiration to guide you or someone you love to take action. You have the power to strive for better hearing, understanding and processing.
As an Audiologist and Hearing Care Professional, it is of upmost importance for me to be an advocate for those that have difficulty communicating, especially during the holidays. Believe it or not, many of our family and friends feel isolated and tend to withdraw during this time of year. Why you might ask? Difficulty hearing or understanding tends to cause extreme frustration, embarrassment and depression. For most people that are having difficulty hearing and understanding, they choose to be off in a world of their own to eliminate the stress of communicating.
The lack of hearing and communicating effectively has many negative outcomes. We hear with our ears, but we process with our brain. If the proper information is not being sent to the brain appropriately, you are at a huge disadvantage. Hearing loss and clarity loss can be isolating and depressing. Don’t let this happen to you or the ones you love. The ability to hear and process the sounds in the world around you is key to independence and self confidence. It is important to keep your mind active to continue to enjoy these special times.
When I reflect on the Holiday Season, years of memories flash through my mind. Our family has grown over the years, but one thing remains constant, our love for family time. Coming from a big Greek family with five siblings, most gatherings are loud, especially during the holidays. Before I share this very personal story, I have to give you background on my grandmother. My grandmother was and still is an incredibly intelligent and driven woman. She still has her mind and independence at age 86! Pretty incredible, if you ask me. However, I do remember a time when my family was worried about hear hearing and communication. The token comments from my grandmother were: “What did you say?” or “I’m sorry can you repeat that” or the smile and head nod routine…you all know this reference. My grandfather would always tell us that there has to be something “off” with her hearing. Of course my grandmother insisted nothing was wrong. What she didn’t realize was that my grandfather was doing a lot of the hearing for her. My grandfather was her life partner, communication partner and some might say a communication crutch. It wasn’t until 2012, when my grandfather passed away that my grandmother realized how much she really was not hearing. Now that she was alone, my family and I insisted that she go for a hearing test. We wanted her to remain as independent as possible.
Guess what her hearing test revealed…hearing loss for all pitches with a more significant loss for the clarity of words. My grandmother was quickly fit with hearing aids in both ears, after which, her life and communication improved for the better. When asking my grandmother about her new hearing aids, she said: “I do not know why I waited so long. This is the best thing I ever did.” My grandmother was empowered to move forward to help her hearing due to our guidance and encouragement. Now she is able to fully participate everyday and especially during the holidays.
Communicating with your loved ones is what makes this time of year so special. It’s never too late to seek help and treatment if you or a loved one has withdrawn from social events or family functions, due to hearing difficulties. I encourage you to take action. The first step is to schedule a Hearing Evaluation with your local ENT or Audiologist’s office. It is never too late to seek help. There are numerous options in the Hearing Health Care world to keeping your brain and processing pathways active and alive! Don’t let the brain slow you down. Do what you can to activate and stimulate your mind to lead a happier and healthier life.
For a full hearing evaluation and treatment options, you are welcome to call my office in Plantation, Florida: (954) 476-0400. Remember, it’s never too late to make a difference in your life or in the life of someone you love!