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Posts: 2
Reply with quote  #1 
Hi folks,

I have an issue with my mother who has hearing aids + is a bad listener. So there are two separate factors 1) not being able to hear everything, and 2) not listening to what you are saying (in the sense that she is disregarding what you have to say in order to reinforce her own preconceived ideas about what she wants to hear). So 90% of the time, when I've wanted to share something with her, it's been met with a negative response or an utterly inaccurate interpretation (usually a highly negative interpretation).

The problem is that I am developing hair-trigger impatience and it is hurting her feelings. 

My mother has never been a good listener. This pre-dates any hearing impairment. She has always jumped to (usually catastrophic) conclusions and interrupted me before I could finish what I was saying. This has always caused communication problems. Currently, she has a significant hearing impairment as well. She has hearing aids, but doesn't wear them around family. She wears them only when company comes (which is not a good message for the family, because it implies visitors are worth hearing, but the rest of us not so much). Now she is totally mishearing me, along with jumping to conclusions and interrupting me.

My main concern is that after 30+ years of this frustration, I've grown unreasonably impatient and I'm unable to conceal my annoyance: "NO! That NOT what I was saying!!!" My response is becoming disproportionate and my mother is getting justifiably upset.

I have taken the steps of seeing a psychologist. While I can't do anything about her behaviours (the unwillingness to use her hearing aids, and pooh-poohing of what she does hear), I am trying to develop strategies for tempering my response, so that I am not responding with such impatience and volatility.

Has anyone had similar experiences? For example, becoming impatient or angry with a parent's dementia symptoms or other lack of capacity?

Reply with quote  #2 
To me, this behavior is just as annoying as someone scratching their fingernails on a chalkboard...

If someone scratches a chalkboard with their fingernails, I generally will react with a less than positive response.  It's almost instinctive, as that noise really aggravates me. I am not trying to be mean when I react, but it simply grates on my nerves to deal with that sound. 

I think your mother's choice to not wear her hearing aid is somewhat similar.  When you couple that with her very painful habit of being a bad listener, your reactions, while maybe hard for her to understand, are typical and understandable.  On another level, you probably also realize that she doesn't want to manage her end of the situation ( wearing her hearing aid...), so when she focuses on making you feel bad for your reaction, it hurts even more.

Nevertheless, like you, I don't want to let these situations turn me into someone who I do not want to be.  I want to be patient and kind, so it's important to work on ways to not let others' behaviors distract me from my goals.

So how do you develop patience with someone who clearly doesn't care about your needs? I think you  need to take care of yourself so you can have the energy to be patient.

Here is what I do when someone is annoying to me (say by refusing to stop scratching a chalkboard or by refusing to listen):

1) I avoid them when my reserves are too low.
2) I distract myself.  (On the phone, I wear earplugs or headphones or some other device in one ear to prevent all the painful stuff from reaching me....)
3) I lower my expectations and accept the current course (...where they will act and I will react and they will then dislike my reaction as much as I dislike their action) and then simply accept that I have no power and stop being surprised. 
4) I manage my discomfort out of their view by making a game of it.  (I'm getting good at using my video camera on my phone to record the insanity sometimes! My mom actually loves being on camera, so it's a way to distract both of us!)  
5) I have learned to grieve the loss of the relationship I always wanted.

At the end of the day, I think it's helpful to accept that your mother is not a good listener at all, so if you need a good ear, she is not going to provide it.  I am much more patient with my mother now that I view her as a person who needs my compassion rather than a person I can have a mutual relationship with, because the truth is that she is not capable of being that kind of a mom.   

I hope you can find something helpful in all this.  Good luck!


Posts: 17
Reply with quote  #3 
My MIL does these me thing, but doesn't have hearing aids. I feel like I do t have nothing worth listening to, so I stop talking. She doesn't realize she's doing this, but it's how I cope. When we are home, when it gets really bad, I go to my bedroom and read. I have asked her if she realized that she interrupted me every time I try to tell her something. She did t, but she did stop for awhile.

Posts: 53
Reply with quote  #4 
She needs to take responsibility for choosing not to hear and the only way is to stop talking to her. Pleasantries - that's it. That sounds cold, but by continuing to include her on news you have when she can't hear ----- what's the point? For hearing aids to be effective, they need to be worn all day long. The only exception should be very loud situations (like on an airplane or around construction equipment).
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