The Mayo Clinic Web site says 25 percent of Americans between 65 and 75 and three-fourths of those over 75 have some degree of hearing loss. Hearing loss is a reason given by those who no longer attend worship. Others are:
• Vision loss, transportation and parking challenges.
• Discomfort: hard pews, no air conditioning, stairs, long walks.
• Resistance to change: new pastor, hymnals, change of time, type of service.
• Emotional difficulty after the loss of a spouse: don’t want to sit alone, the hymns bring back memories of the funeral.
• Accessible buildings, inside and out.
• A doorbell if automatic doors aren’t possible.
• Reserved, close parking.
• Ride-sharing or bus/vans.
• Soft seating, some chairs with arms.
• Buddy system for the newly bereaved.
• Videotaped services that can be sent home.
We were excited when we received the call to serve in Senegal through ELCA Global Mission. Our first task was 10 months of learning French, which we knew would be a challenge—especially with Karen’s hearing loss.
But Karen doesn’t let hearing loss stand in her way. She’s quite adept at reading lips, uses powerful hearing aids, has an assistive listening device, and over the years has learned to adapt. But to learn the nuances of a foreign language one has to clearly hear the sounds and pronunciations to reproduce the words correctly.
|Karen and Ron McCallum worship at Calvary Lutheran Church in Hillsboro, Ore., where Karen uses a personal listening device to hear the pastor.|
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