Friends’ hearing issues lead to awkward outings

Published 8:10 am Tuesday, December 19, 2023

DEAR ABBY: We live in a retirement community. Many of our friends have hearing loss that ranges from slight to profound. While most of them have the money to travel the globe, they don’t invest in hearing aids, which confounds us.
In restaurants, they keep bending their ears toward us and saying “Eh?” to just about every word. We are careful to enunciate clearly for their benefit, but it doesn’t help much. Our natural inclination is to speak louder, which has embarrassed us several times as other diners grew quiet and turned to look at us.
On the most recent occasion, I brought a little notebook and pen in my purse, and when I wrote out a couple of responses, the wife looked offended. It didn’t feel comfortable, but I thought it would be better than yelling or avoiding conversation altogether.
We find ourselves declining invitations with them more often in favor of electronic communication. These are delightful people otherwise. We’re just not sure how to handle this. Do you have any suggestions? – WORKING EARS IN FLORIDA

DEAR WORKING EARS: Yes, I do. Tell these people privately that they may need to get their hearing checked because you are having to shout when you go out in public. Hearing loss happens to many seniors, and those who have the problem can find themselves increasingly isolated. This is why it’s so important to consult an audiologist when you start noticing a need to raise the volume on the television, or you often have to ask people to repeat what they have said to you.
DEAR ABBY: My son and his fiancée are getting married next month. They’re calling it an elopement, but although they have been telling everyone when and where the wedding is, they are not formally inviting anyone. I have come to terms with that. I realize the day is about them, not me. However, this is my only child, and I have always dreamed about being part of this milestone in his life.
I’m sure this is his fiancée’s choice and he is just going along with what she wants, but it is hurting me terribly to not be there. They have also decided a reception in their honor will be held six months afterward. Who does this? Is this proper etiquette? – BROKEN-HEARTED MOTHER

DEAR MOTHER: The rigid rules of etiquette have loosened considerably in recent years. Many younger people prefer the casual over the formal. Please don’t lay the sole blame on your soon-to-be daughter-in-law without first discussing this with your son, because you may be shocked to learn this nontraditional wedding is happening with his enthusiastic blessing. If that’s the case, quietly let go of your “dream.”
As to not being with your son on this special day, if you haven’t received a formal invitation, SHOW UP WITH A SMILE ANYWAY and offer your services as a witness. Those who attend the wedding should be invited to the reception, and if they attend the reception, they should come with a gift in hand.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
Good advice for everyone – teens to seniors – is in “The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It.” To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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