Masks make it hard for everyone to hear — hearing loss or not — but if you are struggling to hear more than the average person, it may not just be the mask, it may be your hearing. Hearing loss often comes on gradually, making it hard to notice at first. It may seem like everyone has started mumbling or the speakers on the television have stopped working properly. It can be upsetting and frustrating, especially since it now takes more effort to communicate effectively. Conversing with people with masks will make it harder still, since you are losing important clues like facial expression and lip movements that you may have been using to decipher speech.
Winston Churchill said, “Never waste a good crisis,” and people with hearing loss have taken his advice with Covid-19. Times have been very hard for many of us with hearing loss during the pandemic — increased levels of isolation, difficulties communicating because of masks and the lack of captioning on many video conferencing platforms — but the community has come together to advocate for change and to build awareness.
It feels like our efforts are having impact. More consideration is being given to the communication needs of people with hearing loss in a variety of settings, including in hospitals. Technology companies are rolling out new options to aid with communication. Media coverage of clear face masks is on the rise. This is all good news.
COVID-19 has disrupted hearing health care, potentially for the better. Both audiologists and patients have needed to adapt. In my latest article for Ida Institute, I provide my suggestions for how providers can best partner with their patients during this difficult time. Practicing person-centered care will not only help providers forge strong relationships with patients during this time of crisis, it will help patients develop the self-care skills they will need for success with their hearing health for years to come. To read the full article click here.
When you have hearing loss, understanding speech does not come naturally. It takes effort. The clues we get from lip movements and facial expressions are almost as important as the sounds that are amplified by our hearing devices. We must look as well as listen in order to hear. Masks, while necessary and important for public health, make this process more challenging.
In my post, Masks Are the Latest Obstacle for People With Hearing Loss I share more information about the difficulties we face while communicating with masks and some helpful tips for combatting these issues, but in this post, I want to explore the ways we can successfully communicate these challenges to others so we can get the assistance that we need. My recent visit to the post office is a perfect case study.
COVID-19 has disrupted operations for both audiologists and people with hearing loss. Many clinics are closed, or open only for curbside service. But hearing health care doesn’t stop, even during a pandemic. In my latest article for Phonak Audiology Blog, I discuss what patients want from audiologists during COVID-19. An excerpt is below. To read the full article click here.
A Hearing Loss Patient Wishlist During COVID-19
The world has changed, driven by the required social distancing caused by COVID-19. All of our lives have been disrupted but hearing health must remain a priority. While many audiologist offices and clinics are closed, there are still ways you can continue to support your patients from a distance. Whether it is supplying spare batteries, offering remote advice, or providing communication tips, your patients continue to rely on your expertise, advice and care.
How can audiologists best support people with hearing loss during this time of physical distancing? Here are my suggestions.