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18 Fearless Years


Gary Barg - Editor-in-chief Hear, hear!

We have had a lot of great responses from caregivers after my interview with Michael Malusevic, Executive Director of the American Tinnitus Association. The interview was held because of the increasing amount of questions I have received at the Fearless Caregiver Conferences about hearing issues. Many of these questions seem to be related to tinnitus, so please allow me this opportunity to share the following Top Ten List in the American Tinnitus Association brochure “Understanding Tinnitus: Advice for Family and Friends.” More information can be found at their Web site: ata.org.

How can family and friends help?

1. Empathize. Tinnitus can be very distracting, stress­ful, and irritating. It often affects a person’s mood and ability to concentrate or sleep.

2. Acknowledge that tinnitus is a valid condition — invisible to you, but real to those who
have it.

3. Remember that it is often hard to hear over the tinnitus, and parts of conversations can be lost or misunderstood. Be patient.

4. Learn as much as possible about tinnitus. Not only will it help you understand the condition, it will show the person with tinnitus that you are concerned and interested in helping. Explain tinnitus to other family members, friends, and co-workers so they can be part of a support circle.

5. Recognize and avoid things that aggravate your affected family member’s tinnitus. People with tinnitus must avoid exposure to loud noise, and might occasionally refuse invitations to events because of noise exposure concerns.

6. It can be helpful to listen to sounds like those your family member hears. ATA has a short audio CD available that presents some “sounds of tinnitus.” An audiologist might also be able to reproduce the sounds for you.

7. Be a medical advocate for your loved one with tinnitus. While some doctors have learned to give thor­ough and attentive care to their tinnitus patients, many still tell tinnitus patients to “go home and learn to live with it” without telling them how to live with it. With your loved one’s permission, go along to tinnitus related medical appointments and ask the questions he or she might not ask.

8. If and when a tinnitus patient expresses deep or suicidal despair, take it seriously and encourage the patient to seek immediate counseling with a trained therapist. Make the appointment yourself if the situation appears critical. If necessary, contact ATA for a list of emergency telephone counseling contacts.

9. Foster involvement in a support group for your affected family member and yourself. A tinnitus support group is a safe place to air concerns and learn coping skills that can benefit everyone. Contact ATA for a list of support contacts in your area or if you would like information on volunteering in this way.

10. Work in your community to reduce involuntary exposure to loud noise. Blasting speakers from open automobiles are outlawed in some cities. Minimalize nonessential noise in your home. Personal MP3 players pose risks for users due to longer battery lives and longer and louder listening times than ever before.
Sounds good to me.

Gary Barg
Today's Caregiver magazine

Wednesday May 15, 2013


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