Face masks, they’ve become increasingly common in most public spaces. Most people now wear them when going to the shops, visiting the GP, or just getting a coffee at their local café. But, there have been reports coming from every corner of the world that people with hearing loss have found it to be increasingly challenging to communicate with others who are wearing masks, as they muffle sound and eliminate lip-reading cues.
Unfortunately, that isn’t the only challenge individuals with hearing loss face. The over-the-ear face mask, often the most common style, puts hearing aid wearers at risk for misplacing their behind-the-ear devices when they become entangled upon removal. But, the good news is that there are a few simple solutions to help combat these issues.
Here are Hearing Sense’s recommendations to help reduce your risk of losing your hearing aids, and help you wear a mask more comfortably.
- The most suitable type of mask for hearing aids has four strings which can be tied behind the head instead of looping around the ears.
- If your hair is long and it can be pulled back into a bun, wrap the elastic band around the bun, so it’s shifted towards above the head.
- Sew two buttons onto a piece of fabric to wear on the back of your head. Loop the mask elastic around these buttons. A paperclip could do the same thing.
- Remove your mask at home in an open area, so if the hearing aids fall to the ground it can be found more easily.
If you do knock your hearing aids off when wearing a face mask, we suggest the following:
- Don’t panic.
- Take your time and retrace your steps and try listing all the places you have been where you could have lost your hearing aids.
- Some hearing aids connect to an app which has a Find my Hearing Aids tab which may be able to trace where last they were.
- Contact the clinic where you first purchased your hearing aids and enquire to see what the process is to get replacement aids. Home and contents insurance will usually cover the cost of aids and the Office of Hearing Services Program also has funds for lost devices.
How to talk while wearing a face mask.
For those with hearing difficulties, sound can be muffled behind a face mask and the absence of lip-reading can make it super difficult, especially in background noise.
Here are a few ways to help make communicating easier while wearing a face mask:
- Speak clearly and slowly
Taking time with your speech helps the brain process what is being said, remember not to shout as this distorts the sound of words. If asked to repeat then try to rephrase it in another way.
- Use visual cues
Meaningful gestures help convey the tone of the message. It’s best to utilise this when speaking and remember to ensure there is always clear eye contact.
- Reduce background noise
Communicating in quieter environments helps people concentrate on the conversation without disruption from external noise. So where possible, move away from loud background sounds, or turn down the volume on the car radio.
For more information about hearing health and COVID-19, we have a page on our website that lists COVID-19 resources and information here.
If you ever need us or want more information about hearing health, give us a call on 8331 8047 or drop into one of our three clinic locations. We have clinics in Norwood, Unley, and Salisbury.