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A joyous hearing challenge

Editor’s Note: We’re delighted to share the news that Ruth Bernstein will be honored with the Spirit of HLAA Award June 22nd at the 2019 HLAA Convention in Rochester. Congratulations, Ruth, on this well-deserved honor.

Sound Advice by Ruth D. Bernstein


Ruth Bernstein advocate for people with hearing loss

I had not been to the Russian Tea Room in more than forty years and wasn’t aware it had become a wedding venue. When I Googled it, I saw four floors of relatively narrow, elegant rooms, one block in depth, from 57th to 56th Street. There is still an upscale restaurant on the first floor. The beautiful second floor ballroom, where the ceremony and dinner would take place, has a glass ceiling and mirrored walls, as does the third floor reception hall. I have a profound hearing loss and knew this was going to be a very difficult hearing environment. I would be dealing with the fatigue factor.

Many years ago, a speaker at a Hearing Loss Association of America Convention, said the brain of someone with hearing loss has to work ten-times harder than normal to decipher the sounds it is hearing. That rang a bell with me because I recognize the extra energy my brain uses to keep me communicating can leave me physically exhausted.

I made all the necessary personal arrangements – dress, shoes, hair, nails, makeup and assistive listening device. Then, I reviewed articles for dealing with noisy situations written by me and fellow advocates whose work I admire.

Holiday Madness by Arlene Romoff »

Communication with Less Stress by Carolyn Stern »

Is it OK if I leave Now? by Katherine Bouton »

Tips for Dining Out by Ruth Bernstein »



It was a beautiful wedding! I’m glad I was there. The joy in the room was palpable. I look forward to celebrating the future weddings of my three other grandchildren, all of whom are in their late twenties. Two of them are in significant relationships and will probably marry in the next couple of years.

I’ve learned that sometimes I have to accept I won’t be able to hear no matter how hard I try. Jeff Wax, Director of CHC’s Baker Family Emotional Health and Wellness Center, shares this meaningful perspective:

It is good to remember that emotional reactions involving levels of stress are feelings that are full of tensions. When we breathe and live through the feeling instead of trying to get rid of it (which ironically creates more tension) and when we are able to live in the moment and try not to get tangled in the stress – and do this with acceptance and without judgments – we find the joy in moments.

I’ll remember that at the next wedding.  Meanwhile, I’m keeping my dancing shoes ready!

Warm regards,

Ruth D. Bernstein Consumer Advocate

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