By Dr. Angela Seuser
Covid-19 has imposed all of us with new challenges. For those with hearing loss, these changes are likely even more challenging due to the restrictions in our abilities to communicate. Because of the CDC regulations and recommendations, many of us are quarantining. If individuals are out and about, they are recommended to be wearing masks. For an individual with hearing loss, this makes an even greater impact. Hearing loss is proven have an isolating effect in and of itself. But with the recommendation to stay home, those with hearing loss are further isolated. Communication is limited to using technology, phone calls, video calls, and conversations from a distance or with use of a mask. The lack of face-to-face contact within a three to four foot distance from the speaker makes a great impact on one’s ability to use visual cues as well as benefit from an appropriate distance for the best ability to understand speech. Much of communication has resorted to phone calls. This can be difficult for individuals with hearing loss whether or not they have hearing aids because of volume limitations and difficulty finding ideal placement of the receiver with a hearing aid. Many people with hearing loss rely on face-to-face contact for the benefit of visual cues in order to have successful communication. So, what can we do to make communication easier given the restrictions? If you’re communicating on the phone, start by introducing the topic of the conversation. For example, “Mom, I want to talk about Sarah’s graduation”. Speak at a slightly slower rate. Fast speech is incredibly difficult to understand, especially with hearing loss. Annunciate your speech and be conscious of speaking into the phone. These tips are just as useful if you’re wearing a mask. Another attempt at staying is touch is to write letters. Everyone enjoys a hand written note, or even a drawing from children or loved ones. With all of this being said, it’s just important to remember our loved ones who might be stuck at home, especially if they are alone. We have the opportunity to create goodness out of a shattering event. This is an opportunity to think about people first, to do something good for others in any way possible.