HRF UPDATE FROM GEOFF PLANT
It is hard to believe that 2021 is half over, and we are finally returning to something approaching normality. Last year was without doubt the most difficult I have endured in my life, and I am very happy that we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. In 2020, I think most of us felt we could not even see the tunnel! I am now back in the office up to three days a week and am seeing clients face-to-face once again. I am also continuing providing remote training to a number of other clients. In a typical week, I see 8 – 10 clients, and hope to expand our services soon.
Training During COVID-19
Despite the many challenges that we all faced in 2020, it was a good year for the HRF. The realization that it would be impossible to see clients in the office forced me to investigate alternative means of training. I was able to maintain a full training schedule from my home through the use of the Facebook Portal, WhatsApp, and FaceTime. Each system has limitations, but they enabled me to see clients and maintain contact at a time when so many people felt isolated. I learned a great deal about the effects of the systems on speed of communication and grew to accept those limitations because, in the end, communication was still possible. The use of these systems enabled me to see clients outside the greater Boston area on a regular basis. I hope to expand these services in the coming months.
Support From The Cummings Foundation Continues
Last year also saw the HRF receive a Cummings Foundation grant of $10,000 per year for 10 years. This provides us with a degree of financial stability, and recognizes that the work that the HRF does is of great value. The Cummings Foundation website provides information about the work they do through their generous support of a wide range of not-for-profit organizations.
Hearing Loss And Loneliness
Most people with a hearing loss are all too familiar with the effects it has on conversation. The effects are worsened if the person with HL lives alone and has limited opportunities to interact with others.
Loneliness is a great problem for many older people, and its effects can be made worse by hearing loss. The HRF has recently been awarded an Analog Devices Foundation Community Grant to look at a potential solution to this problem.
We will be undertaking a study in which older adults (65 years +) with HL who live alone will be provided with a Facebook Portal system. Volunteer speakers will contact them twice a week for “face-to-face” conversations using the Portal. The volunteers will also be trained to provide some listening/brain training activities.
We will collect information using a variety of measures before and after the trial period. There is no cost for participants taking part in the study. If you feel that you or someone you know would benefit from this study, please contact me to obtain more details.
I have recently expanded the items that appear on our greeting cards to include emus, koalas, and other Australian animals. Each card is an original hand painted design. If you would like to purchase a pack of these cards for home or office use, they are $25.00 for 10 cards (postage included). All proceeds from the sale of these cards goes to support the work of the HRF.