Caree complaints - No. 1: "You must be deaf."

Even people with excellent hearing do not always hear properly a few spoken words, and ask for them to repeated. Maybe the speaker mumbles rather than talks clearly, or there is a lot of background noise. Maybe the speaker is at a distance, and this is probably a common problem with carees. Whereas most people, if they want to request something, approach the other person to talk, people with mobility problems try to converse from where they are. Constantly, my caree shouts some request from another room, when I am in the kitchen, with dishwasher, washing machine, tumble drier, etc. whirring away. Another scenario is when I am wheeling her through a shopping mall or other place with plenty of background noise. She effectively tries to converse with her back to me.

This led to “accusations” that I was deaf. After many months of nagging, she persuaded me to have a hearing test. I agreed to this on condition that she to sought medical advice on a matter I was concerned about but she wanted to ignore.

The test did reveal a moderate loss of hearing in one ear. I now have a hearing aid, which certainly helps. However incidents of not hearing the first time still occur. My caree does have a habit of talking in short phrases, or even single words, rather than proper sentences. I have put it to her that if she precedes her request with, say, announcing my name, it catches my attention and I am more likely to hear first time. I give, by example, public address systems in the station, theatre, etc., where an announcement is preceeded by a distinct sound like a beep or a G-major arpeggio. I have even provided her with a bell, so that she can ring for attention if I don’t here her call from a remote part of the house, though she rarely takes this up. A trick she sometimes uses is to phone our landline number from her mobile phone and get my attention that way.

And yet, there still occur cases when she does not hear first time what someone else says to her, and I do hear it first time. Sound is a very indecisive thing.

Have others had this difficulty, and what ways have you tried to overcome it?


when I taught in special ed, some of our most severely hearing impaired pupils had a ‘phonic ear’. The teacher wore a small microphone around their neck and when they spoke it went directly to the child’s hearing aid. This cut out back ground noise being amplified too. This worked over a distance - I could hear the teaching assistants chatting in the bathroom if they were changing other pupils and could call back a gorgeous but very mischievous set of twins if they spent too long going to the toilet and washing their hands!

I wonder if there is a modern equivalent? Probably bluetooth …


I’d take an entirely different tack.

I’d just insist that they waited until I was in the same room! One task at a time is enough.
If you can’t hear because of the dishwasher, washing machine etc. that means that they should also be able to hear it too!

You need some peace, you are not a slave there to jump when the caree wants you to.
You may be a carer, but you also deserve some peace and quiet and down time.

IF it is a matter of life and death, that’s different.
Otherwise tell them to wait until they can go and see you, or you are in the same room!

I took the same attitude when I was in the bathroom and the children were small. The door was locked, and I was “not available”. Banging on the door would do no good!

Thanks for your interesting point, Melly. It sounds as though this institution may have had the induction loop system. A wire surrounds the entire area and the amplifier sends the sound signals to the wire. Suitable hearing aids will pick up the sound from the wire if set to the “T” setting. It has often been used in theatres, churches and similar places. The sound transmitted to the hearing aid is clear, as from the microphone in front of the speaker, without background noise or reverberation from the loudspeakers. It is also found in places like cashier counters in banks, etc,. where communication needs to be through a glass screen.

This technology is becoming dated. My own hearing aid can be set to work like this, but in practice I rarely use it nowadays. Modern hearing aids like mine have also direction settings, picking up sound from the front only, and people like to hear everything - not just what is in the loop. You mention Bluetooth. Yes, that could work, with an ear bud for the listener and a Bluetooth-linked microphone for the speaker. I wonder if any institutions are already using a system like that.

I don’t think it is the answer for a one-to-one carer-caree situation. As Bowlingbun pointed out, we should not be slaves to our carees; likewise we should not be slaves to technology.

Thank you for your reply, Bowlingbun.

I think most of us carers realise that we have to strike a balance between what is reasonable and what is not - something not always clearly defined.

I have stated my terms to my caree. If she wants to say something, start with my name to catch my attention.

If she shouts my name from a distant room, my response will be, “Coming, dear,” or “Just a moment; I’m busy.”

If she shouts an instruction from the distance, it may be well-intenioned to save me a walk. It sometimes works like this. But if I want her to repeat, I’ll walk to her. She will need to accept this.

As you rightly say, she cannot expect me to jump to attention at every call. Something that is working better nowadays is that she lets a few minor matters build up, then she calls me to attend to all of them. This saves time and interruptions of my train of thought and activity.

Hi Denis,

definitely not a loop system, it was rather like this !!


Interesting, Melly! Bluetooth would do the same sort of thing - but a more-advanced technology and definitely more compact!

There has been a development. My hearing aid went faulty and there was a long waiting list at audiology dept. for a repair appointment.

I explained the situation to my caree. I said that for a while I would have more difficulty in hearing her, and could she make allowances.

She responded surprisingly well. More calling of me to come and discuss something. Tolerance of my wanting the TV volume louder than usual.

It demonstrates that if you can discuss a problem reasonably and rationally, you are most of the way to solving it.

although that is very annoying re a long wait to have something as essential as a hearing aid repaired; that’s definitely a result re your wife being more understanding. I hope she continues with her new strategies once they finally get repaired.


UPDATE: Hearing aid temporarily fixed, pending a replacement ear mould and another hearing test and re-appraisal, with adjustments as necessary.

A couple of days ago my caree again shouted something from the other end of the house, and I went to her and asked her to repeat.

She said, in an angry tone, “In future, I am just going to call you, and not say what I want till you arrive.”

My response was not what she expected, and deflated her somewhat. I said, “That’s a great idea; I wish you would!”

We’ll see how it goes.

Does your caree have the same sense of timing as my wife? The other day she called me through from the kitchen where I was getting the coffee machine ready for nectar production. I duly went through, we had a short chat and I went back to the kitchen. I actually put my hand on the coffee tin when she called again. This happened twice more and still not one grain of coffee grounds reached the coffee machine.

Yes, Charles, this sounds like familiar stuff. See also no. 3 of this series: “You never finish a job.”

It has reached a point where, if I am busy in another part of the house, I delay going to her vicinity for as long as possible, because of the inevitable: “While you are here, can you . . . ?” It makes sense, after all, to assist her on a number of things on one visit rather than several visits to do one at a time. It is all part of the caring strategy.

Charles, maybe your coffee machine has a “magic button”?

We are sure that there is one in each of our bathrooms…
I can sit my the phone all day, it never rings, no one calls.
As soon as I go to the bathroom the phone rings or there is a knock on the door.

I think it’s a camera. One reason why there are no ring cameras or Alexa/Siris in the house.