During this unique time of social distancing, many Americans are spending increased time at home with family and loved ones. Families are eating dinner together, having conversations, and even watching Netflix together. In many instances, this increased family interaction is having some positive effects on the lives of many Americans. Unfortunately, this time of close family interaction makes untreated hearing loss more obvious than ever before.
How to recognize hearing loss
There are many signs that a loved one is experiencing untreated hearing loss. And, now that we’re spending a lot more time in the same room, or the same house, or not at work, some of these deficiencies in hearing have become glaringly obvious.
Here are some common signs of hearing loss in your loved one:
- The TV is way too loud.
- They are constantly asking you or other people to repeat what’s being said either in person or over the telephone.
- They are unaware of small sounds in the house. These might include the ticking of a clock, the chime on the microwave, the clicking of a fan, or the sound of dogs’ or cats’ feet as they walk on tile or hardwood floors.
The fact that they’re not hearing these sounds is not a problem in itself. These sounds are not major safety indicators and don’t really change a person’s life or communication abilities. However, these sounds are in the same frequency ranges as many important speech sounds. If you or a loved one is noticing reduction in hearing abilities, it’s very important to have a hearing test by a qualified professional. Then, seek and consistently use treatment sooner rather than later.
How wearing masks impacts hearing impaired individuals
During this time of social distancing, many Americans are being asked to wear masks. Whether people acknowledge it or not, nearly 1/3 of the English language is visible on the lips. And, we all use at least some lip reading and other visual cues to help fill in gaps when we struggle to hear spoken language.
For example, if your physician is wearing a mask and you’re suffering from hearing loss, it will be extremely difficult to hear and therefore comply with their instructions. This is not to say that wearing a mask is a bad idea. It’s just good to understand that masks limit visual cues and therefore, hinder communication abilities of individuals with hearing loss.
By treating hearing loss, you can minimize these negative impacts and help improve communication during this time of social distancing. If you have not had your hearing checked, find the time to visit a hearing health care professional who can perform a complete audiometric evaluation. Remember … you’re not on your own. And, treating a hearing loss is much less embarrassing than having to ask everyone to repeat themselves.