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A LACE Member Shares Tips

We recently received a letter from LACE user Jim Kurfess. Jim, 84, used hearing aids successfully for more than two decades before encountering severe deterioration in hearing and listening comprehension.

Since then, Jim has made two helpful discoveries: a way of using LACE to demonstrate his difficulties to a dubious spouse, and a simple but effective communication tool that aids him in every social situation. Read on.

“Dear Neurotone,

“I believe that hearing loss is the most complex, most misunderstood, and most devastating, if lost or significantly weakened, of all our senses. My own very difficult and ongoing transition from moderate to severe hearing loss is the reason for this opinion. The vast array of products, services, support groups et al that exist to help hearing-impaired people strengthens it mightily.

“After using hearing aids successfully for 22 years, my hearing deteriorated over a two-year period during which my wife, PeeDee, and I learned the disaster caused by severe hearing loss! The final piece of the puzzle of my hearing loss fell into place on a cruise in January 2015. I sat at a table for six in the boat’s huge dining room and literally, couldn’t understand a word my tablemates said. I could hear them well: I couldn’t understand them!

“We were thus catapulted into a terribly difficult world which has taken years to understand, to the extent possible, and try to learn how to deal with. For most of that very difficult two-year period, my wife absolutely couldn’t believe I was “hard of hearing.†After all, we had talked to and understood each other well for 54 of our 56-year marriage. That was the worst we faced.

“I have the LACE listening course to thank for finally convincing her that I am truly hard of hearing. I scored 131 on the comprehension test at the beginning of the course! After trying 6 sessions, I had a ‘eureka’ moment and asked PeeDee to watch a segment of a lesson with me and tell me how many words, phrases or sentences she could understand and repeat out loud; she understood and could repeat every word of every sound bite. I could do none! She truly understood from that moment on. Thank you! Perhaps this is a potential new service to add to your array.

“Hearing loss is very, very complicated, grossly misunderstood, and is unique individual to individual. What works for me is not necessarily applicable to others, but I suggest the card/note as an arrow in the quiver for people with hearing loss to be used if and when necessary. They can keep a few cards in their wallet, pocket, pocketbook, etc. for use with doctors, lawyers, financial advisers, and even more important, with family involved in important decision-making discussions. For me it is comfortable to have around my neck!”

Jim Kurfess

What’s on that card?

I Have Hearing Loss
Please talk to me face to face
So I can read your lips.

The idea for the card came to Jim just before his wife’s scheduled hip surgery in 2016. He needed to be able to hear and be understood by doctors and nurses. And now he takes it many places:

“With the card in full view hanging from a lanyard around my neck, I can confidently go anywhere I want to go! I am comfortable going to stores, shops, doctors’ offices, a crowded VA medical clinic, etc. I am comfortable because people who want to or have to talk to me or vice versa will be aware of my severe hearing loss and how to overcome it! It works very, very well.”

For more ideas on quickly improving your listening comprehension, read 10 Tips on Communication for the Hard of Hearingfrom LACE Auditory Training.

Do you have tips on coping with your hearing loss? If so, please share them in the comments section!

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  1. Jim, Thanks for sharing, many of us veterans live between the hearing and non hearing worlds treated as outsiders rather harshly by both. I’m amazed how adversely my hearing loss has affected my relationship with friends, wife and co workers. “Oh, just forget it”, is a phase I do hear…a lot…. after my hearing loss became profound last year. I’m gonna give this Neurotone program a shot, learn a little sign language, adjust and overcome. Maybe find some new friends along the way.

  2. I have an additional problem that is never mentioned. My partner has an English accent that often hinders me from understanding what he is saying. I hear him just fine. That’s it. Suggestions?

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