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My solution to a noisy room

June 23, 2014
by Kathleen Mears
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I have been living with Janeen (pseudonym), who likes her music loud, for the past six months. I wrote a previous blog, "Turn it down," about possible solutions to quiet my room. The loud music makes it difficult for me to concentrate. Using my voice activation software to dictate and do simple commands on my desktop or laptop can be quite challenging because of the interference. The software has gone berserk many times because of my roommate's background sounds.

I tried to negotiate with Janeen. But it hasn’t worked. She likes the music on all the time. Even when it is loud enough that the staff requests the volume be lowered, she turns it up soon after.

Since negotiation hasn’t worked, I decided to try disposable earplugs. An aide put them in my ears, but they did not muffle the sound nearly enough. I looked online and was shocked that some musician and hunter earplugs start at $100! In search of a solution, I bought three pairs of much less expensive pairs to see if they would work better. They were more comfortable, but the sound was no softer than with throwaway earplugs.

When Janeen started playing her music during the night, I could not sleep. A night shift nurse solved the problem, but only temporarily. She waited until Janeen was asleep and turned down her radio. This helped, but since I did not think all night shift nurses would do the same, I remained determined to find an earplug or earphone solution.

As this problem continued, a few of the younger aides challenged me to just get used to Janeen's music. I understand their thinking. But they are not in my room with the music playing 24/7.

One aide offered to bring in earplugs from a previous factory job. She brought several new pairs. We found a pair that fit and they did cut down the noise, I have worn them ever since—day and night. Unfortunately, my left ear is sore from them, and I need something softer.

I am back searching online for a more comfortable pair that is just as effective as the industrial type. Ear canals are distinctive, like fingerprints, and custom earplugs are available at quite a price. I hope I will not have to resort to those.

An MP3 player with a continuous loop of white noise would work. But without an easy way for me to operate it, I am holding off on making the purchase.

I never thought that someday I would have to wear earplugs to read, write and sleep at night. There is no quiet place in this nursing home for me to go, especially during the night. I have found muffling my hearing is more peaceful than trying to alter Janeen's loud music habit, and less nerve-racking.



Kathleen Mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...