Experience Hearing Center is highlighting the importance of communication during National Better Hearing Month.  “Communication is so important to all of us and is necessary in all areas of our lives, from socializing with family and friends to our work environments to every day interaction in society,” explains Richard Leroux, B.S., BC-HIS.  “Hearing loss alone can cause many people to feel isolated, especially during this unique time of social distancing.”

According to a 2016 study by the National Institutes of Health NIDCD, approximately 15 percent (37.5 million) of American adults aged 20-69, have some trouble with hearing and most of them (28.8 million) could benefit from the use of hearing aids.

“You may notice a family member, whose hearing has changed over time, use certain coping strategies to stay in the conversation,” says Leroux.  “Maybe it’s lip reading, watching facial expressions or standing closer to you to hear better.”

COVID-19 resulted in lockdowns at senior living facilities, social distancing and use of masks. Leroux explains that communication, while challenging during this time, is essential to helping individuals with a hearing loss.  “Untreated hearing loss is linked to social isolation and depression and while masks and social distancing are important, you or your loved ones with a hearing loss may be struggling more than before.”

For individuals with a hearing loss, Leroux suggests speaking to friends and family daily by phone or video chat.  “The simple action of picking up the phone can help someone who has a hearing loss still feel connected to their family and friends,” says Leroux.

For individuals who are working from home and participating in virtual meetings, Leroux suggests a few tips that their co-workers and supervisors can do to help eliminate communication challenges. “Whenever possible, use video so employees who struggle to hear well can see visual cues, keep your mouth unobstructed, use the mute button so background noise isn’t competing with voices, and record your meeting so individuals can review any segments of the meeting they were unable to hear clearly,” says Leroux.

For individuals with a hearing loss who currently wear hearing aids, Leroux says that keeping devices clean and operational is crucial to improving communication. “Wipe your hearing aid down every evening with a lotion-free tissue or clean handkerchief,” says Leroux.  Using a dry jar every evening is also suggested.  Leroux adds that it’s important that individuals with hearing loss continue to wear their hearing aids.  “Even if an individual is home alone during these times of social distancing it is important to wear your hearing aid,” says Leroux.  “If you’re not wearing your hearing aid, you’re not stimulating your brain and you’re creating a huge safety risk.  Not wearing your hearing aids when you’re home alone means you may not hearing smoke detectors, oven timers, and more.”

During National Better Hearing Month, Experience Hearing Center will be sharing more tips on its Facebook page, www.facebook.com/experiencehearingcenter.