We seem to be moving towards a time where everyone will be wearing masks in public places. When we are able to open our clinic doors again, staff and clients alike will most likely be donning masks. Although more and more articles and papers are coming out by the day promoting the benefits of mask wearing for reducing the transmission of infection, masks pose certain challenges for the hard of hearing.
Reduced Speech Understanding:
We all use visual cues to help us put together the information that we hear. For the hard of hearing, these cues become even more important for maintaining fluent conversation. Not only will masks slightly muffle the quality of speech, but losing the ability to speech read (lip read) can also have a negative impact one a person’s ability to comprehend what they have heard. For individuals with sever to profound hearing losses as well as individuals with poor speech discrimination scores, this poses an even greater risk.
One possible solution that we are investigating is getting some masks with a clear window in the centre so that people’s lips are still visible. We will keep you up-to-date on our ability to source these.
Increased Risk of Losing Hearing Aids:
Previously, the most common occurrence for lost hearing devices was from people who were gardening or working outdoors. A branch could drag along the side of their face and pop out their hearing aid. For RIC and BTE models, taking masks on and off poses a very high risk of having the elastic catch on your hearing aid tube or wire and knock it off. Given the additional stress of wearing a mask and disinfecting everything while running errands these days, your mental attention will be even less focused on the change in sound as a hearing aid pops off along with the mask. Therefore, it is important that every time you take your mask off, that you double check that your hearing aids are still in place.
If your hearing aid does get knocked off and lost or damaged, please contact us. We are still able to order and program replacement devices and are also providing repair support during the COVID-19 closures.