Thursday, April 23, 2009

Can You Hear Me Now?

A couple of weeks ago, my grandmother showed us an ad that came in the Sunday newspaper for a hearing device. It clipped on the ear like a popular mobile phone device, and as she put it, "only costs $20." She added, "If it would help me, it would be worth it." I know my grandmother has hearing problems... but I have to tell you, at 96 years of age, her hearing seems to often be quite selective. Things I think that she could never hear, she discerns just fine, and others, she doesn't hear (or chooses NOT to hear?) at all!

So I brought the ad home and laid it on my desk. I knew that a friend of ours and his brothers had purchased a device for their mother that consisted of a little box she wore around her neck with ear buds, and the amplification worked well for her. She wore this device every waking hour. I e-mailed my friend and asked him the name of this device. His mother has recently passed away, and later that evening, my friend rang our doorbell and handed me his mom's device... box and all. He said, "We've been wondering who we could give this to... I hope it helps your grandmother." He is a GREAT friend!

This device costs nearly $200 brand new. It has an AC charger and several sets of ear buds and a headset, a belt clip, and the neck cord. I charged the unit and took it to my grandmother, explaining where it came from and how nice it was... and how much BETTER it would be than her device for $20. She said, "It's very much like the ones we use at church." I helped her pick out ear buds that fit, and I showed her how it all worked. She said it did, indeed, help her to hear. Then she promptly took it off, wrapped it all up and put it back into the box. I asked her why she wasn't using it, and she said, "Well, I will when I can't hear, but I hear you just fine." Now, I was enjoying the thought that I might no longer have to scream at my grandmother to be heard, but apparently she enjoys that? I didn't say much, but she did say "Huh?" more than once afterward. I had delivered the device... there was very little more I could do or say.

The next day, my grandmother informed me that her device's "battery is dead." I explained that it really doesn't have a battery, per se. She said, "Well, my Home Health aides came, and they fiddled with it and left it turned on, and now the battery is dead." I told her that it should hold a charge ALL DAY... and something else must be wrong, but to plug the unit in like I showed her and let it charge overnight. She had a function to attend the next day, and I knew she would want the unit so she could hear. After several exchanges back and forth about WHERE to plug in the charger (she insisted it worked best in the earphone portal!), I gave up trying to explain - she insisted "It's working now!"

Two days later, we were at a baby shower, and Mam-ma was wearing her device, but she was not wearing the ear buds. She sat in a corner, appearing to be unable to hear much of what was said. When she got up to get refreshments, I said, "Mam-ma, put in your ear buds." She said in a loud, curt voice, "I can hear just fine!" I gave up! A very dear friend of ours who was there said, "You gave her the device... you've done your part... the rest is up to her." She was exactly right!

So I have no clue if my grandmother will enjoy the device as much as its original owner. I only know that we are limited in what we can accomplish... and I've done my best to help her to hear better. And that will have to do.

1 comment:

JJ said...

Very good articles Debbie, I enjoy reading what you put in here. Although we are no longer involved in my Mom's care we still identify and sympathize with much you are going through.

Actually we have not been able to talke to my Mom since last September when she went to live with one of my sisters, who immediately blocked our phone numbers from calling her. Long story, but just one of those things.

My older brother still sees her because he manages her finances, thank God, because if my sister had her way she would have the checkbook and Mom's entire check. He keeps up abreast of what is happening with her, and the dementia is not getting better but is progressing about as expected, and Mom now fights almost constantly with my sister over everything.

Sharon and I do not love Mom any less than we ever did and still pray for her daily, but after the "long story" episodes last summer we no longer contribute any money to her for spending money as she does not control any money she gets, but it is turned over to the sister. According to our nephew, when her monthly check arrives from my older brother for her spending money, she is taken to the bank to cash it and it goes right into his mothers purse, never to be seen again. If Mom wants something special, she has to ask my sister to pick it up for her, and then the decision is made if she needs it or not.

My older brother has power of attorney for Mom's affairs and medical care, so there is nothing we can do about any of it. We have decided we will enjoy our lives and pray for Mom and hope for the best, as there is nothing we can do and worrying about it would not do us or her any good.

Myself and three other siblings still think Mom should be in a care facility where she will have 24/7 care instead of being a built in babysitter for my sisters 6 year old son why sis frolics in the bars and clubs at night. Doctors strongly recommended Mom not be left alone, but it is out of our hands, and my older brother will have to live with his decisions in the event something horrible happens to Mom.

I don't comment much, but I do come in and read you escapades with you Mama, and enjoy them. Even though we are out of the picture with Mom, we are never really out of the picture, if you know what I mean.

God Bless you and yours.
JJ