Your COVID-19 Hearing Loss Survival Guide

How quickly things change. A few weeks ago I was speaking at a Phonak awards dinner for its top Lyric providers about ways to enhance the provider/patient relationship, planning for two upcoming talks on patient-centered care at the American Academy of Audiology (AAA) 2020 convention, enjoying dinners out, gathering with friends, sending my children to school and practicing yoga at my local studio.

Today, everything is different. My children’s school is closed, the AAA conference is cancelled, and my family and I are hibernating at home in hopes of protecting ourselves and others from the COVID-19 virus. By the time this post is published, other restrictions may be in place. We are all feeling the stress of rapid change, the uncertainty of the unknown, and the disconnectedness that comes from sheltering in place.

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Hearing loss can be socially isolating in normal times, but the newly announced social distancing rules compound the situation. How can people with hearing loss stay as active, engaged and productive as possible during this time of forced isolation?

Here are my suggestions. Please share yours in the comments. And stay safe!

1. Set up a routine. It may not be the one you are used to, but having a set time to wake, exercise, eat meals and do productive work can help you avoid slipping into lethargy. Schedule time for self care and relaxation so you keep your body and mind healthy and alert. Try meditating to relieve stress and promote a feeling of well-being.

2. Reach out to loved ones and friends. While meeting in person is not an option, commit to speak to at least one person each day. Contact that long lost friend you are always meaning to see, but never have time. You are more likely to catch them at home in the next few weeks. Talking on the phone can be difficult when you have a hearing loss, but using Facetime or Skype can help with lipreading. Captioned phones can also make conversations easier.

3. Learn something new. Use your extra time to take an on-line course. Several Ivy League colleges offer free on-line classes, many of which seem to include captioning and/or written transcripts. Take a virtual museum tour or view an online collection. Or simply read that book you’ve had on the shelf for years.

4. Keep moving. Maintain your exercise routine through online classes or YouTube videos. Free yoga classes are available at Yoga with Adriene among other places, or make up your own. I have have been leading daily yoga classes for my family to keep us active.

5. Review your emergency plans. My post How to Prepare for an Emergency When You Have Hearing Loss discusses the basics. Make sure you have plenty of batteries for your hearing devices on hand and that your chargers are easy to locate. If you need food, medicine or other necessities, try to have them delivered before heading to the store. Many grocery stores and pharmacies offer delivery on a regular basis.

6. Prepare a medical communication kit. Should you need to seek medical attention, call first. When told to head to the doctor, bring your hearing aids, batteries, chargers and any additional communication devices that you find helpful such as speech-to-text apps, paper and pencil, or Roger pens. For more suggestions on handling COVID-19 in a healthcare setting, read Chad Ruffin MD’s highly informative piece linked above.

Readers, how are you staying socially engaged during the pandemic?

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22 thoughts on “Your COVID-19 Hearing Loss Survival Guide

  1. You could spend the extra time writing a gratitude letter/ email. Maybe you can thank your audiologist for their dedication and hard-work. Shari, maybe you can spend your extra free time in writing more posts. Take care and be safe.

  2. Shari,

    I know you folks in NYC have it worse than a lot of us, so we’ll be thinking of you. I’ve already done online yoga and plan on it every other day with cardio workouts in between. Cardio for me means long walks at a local park with the dog then floor work at home. Helps keep my mind clear. Have you found Skype or FaceTime to be pretty equal in terms of quality of conversations? Mike

  3. I’ll be walking my dogs on the beautiful paved trails along the river. Our usual work as a therapy team in our local libraries, nursing centers and airport has all been temporarily put on hold. We’ll also set up some agility equipment in my small backyard to help keep our discipline tuned up. It’s a chance to find time to work on my Aussie’s job as my hearing alert service dog too since I’ll be needing him more as my hearing is fading in my one remaining hearing ear even with an aid. Unread books are calling too. Life adjusted…

  4. Hi Shari. Thank you for the thoughts. One that folks can check into is Hillsdale College has FREE Online course. They pertain to the foundation of this wonderful country we live in.

  5. Consider participating as a ‘phantom walker’ in one of HLAA’s Walk4Hearing events planned in various locations in the country this spring. While the actual walks may be cancelled, we can still support HLAA in its efforts to make hearing loss an issue of national concern. Register as a team member on one of the many teams and ask your friends and family members to support your efforts. Hearing loss is easily swept under the rug when other health issues take precedence. We help solve problems by becoming part of the solution. And this can all be done online! http://www.walk4hearing.org

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