close x

Hearing Loss Management

Hearing Loss Management and Capacitar Practices
Karen Lindberg, M. A., Wisconsin

The old saying, "You teach best what you want to learn," explains why I give workshops in hearing loss management. I began learning how to live with hearing loss when I was first diagnosed at the age of thirty, twenty-five years ago, and I continue to learn every day. Quite early on, however, I realized that living well with hearing loss was mostly about living well period; that is, taking the time to care for and heal one's body-mind-spirit from the stress and demands of ordinary life, as well as the traumas; and for hard of hearing people, the potentially debilitating effects of frequent communication breakdown. Both as a student and a teacher, I've found the Capacitar practices to be invaluable tools for self-care, which is why I decided to develop a training in their use which would be accessible to hard of hearing people.

The pilot project for this training consisted of five programs, each approximately two and a half hours in length, spread over a ten month period; four in my home and one conducted for a support group of hard of hearing people at their meeting site. The group consisted of an average of five women, but the participants varied from session to session, with some new and some former participants in each session, and included several people with normal hearing as well. The practices included beginning Tai Chi, breath work, visualization, active listening, mindful eating, finger holds, hand massage, drum massage, and acupressure. We started with a dedication of the sacred space and check-in and ended with a closing ritual.

Accessibility was provided through the use of an FM assisted listening system and visuals in the form of a participant guide and diagrams and text displayed on a flip chart. The FM system was essential for some of the hard of hearing participants and helpful for others, especially when they were invited to close their eyes during the visualization and breathing exercises. (Often relaxation exercises with eyes closed make hard of hearing people anxious rather than relaxed.) The participant guide with step by step instructions for the practices was useful in several ways. It could be referred to as a read-along during the workshop, if necessary; it could be used as a guide when practicing with a partner; and it could be taken along and used as a manual while doing the practices at home. The flipchart was useful as a teaching guide for me and helped visually reinforce the auditory delivery of information to the participants.

Judging from written feedback as well as discussion following the sessions, the immediate outcome of the individual sessions was a sense of well-being, relaxation, and in some instances, relief from minor aches and pains. I felt the same results as a facilitator. This is remarkable in itself, but doubly so given the fact that most hard of hearing people typically experience significant stress in any kind of a group setting due to the effort of trying to hear. I credit this opposite and positive outcome to the efficacy of the practices, the provision of accommodations for easy accessibility, and the genuine and open sharing of the participants.

I've had little feedback from the participants regarding the long-term effects of the practices. My sense is that some people have incorporated some practices into their daily lives, but I don't know for sure. However, the written comments that follow indicate that some long-term effects may very well result from just our having practiced together. It has been a privilege for me to be with these women and to learn from them, not only about how to better deliver the training, but also about how to better live a life of deep feeling and compassion. It has been an extraordinarily enriching experience.

Participants' Comments

This has been a new experience that enables people to connect with one another in different ways.

I think it helped me to gain a little self-confidence.

This program makes one aware of one's own body, mind, and spirit and what one can do to enhance (one's) being.

The sharing and caring of each participant stays with me for a while.

I appreciate learning new techniques that help us appreciate the beauty of life.

My neck and hands feel great. When I came my neck felt stiff and my hands hurt. It has also improved my self-concept by feeling better overall.

I felt relaxed rather than stressed, which is always not the case when I attend meetings, and workshops.