As businesses open across the nation, the public is being asked to wear face masks to keep employees, fellow patrons and themselves safe. While this is an important measure for the health of the community, it can pose a challenge for people who wear hearing aids for a variety of reasons.
When everyone around is wearing a face mask, it is difficult for the hard-of-hearing to communicate. This is because masks muffle speech, making it harder to hear, and because many people with hearing loss rely on lip-reading to understand, which is not possible when there is a physical barrier over the mouth.
There is also a challenge when it comes to being the mask wearer – ear loops on face masks tend to tug on hearing aids, causing discomfort. Many also report that removing the mask causes hearing aids to fall out.
Below are some tips for communicating while wearing masks, as well as strategies for wearing masks and hearing aids at the same time.
The following tips can be followed by both the person with hearing loss and the conversation partner for optimum communication.
- Reduce background noise or find a quiet area.
- Speak slowly and clearly, but do not shout.
- Rephrase remarks if not understood.
- Get the listener’s attention and make eye contact before speaking.
- Take turns speaking and do not interrupt one another.
- Converse while facing each other – don’t talk while walking.
- Obtain a mask with clear plastic, if possible.
- Consider purchasing a portable hearing aid amplifier.
- Advocate for yourself and communicate your listening needs.
Tips for Wearing a Mask with Hearing Aids
If you have difficulty wearing your face mask and hearing aids at the same time, try the following:
- Take care when removing the mask so that you don’t accidentally drop your hearing aids.
- Wear a mask with soft fabric ties instead of elastic to relieve pressure on the ears.
- Use a mask extender with buttons to attach the loops onto around the back of the head rather than around the ears.
- Try plastic s-hooks or other simple tools to loop the mask onto.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call the experts at Wilmington Audiology today.