Tips for Sheltering in Place with Hearing Loss

In Hearing Health, Hearing Loss by Jennifer G. Mayer, Au.D., CCC-A

Jennifer G. Mayer, Au.D., CCC-A

If you live in an area that is practicing shelter-in-place, your life has surely transformed before your eyes. Some of the simple activities that you might have taken for granted are put on hold for the time being. What’s more, it is unclear in some parts of the world how long these shelter-in-place orders will last. Rather than focus on an uncertain future, this time can be an opportunity to improve life as it is, taking it one day at a time. Those who use hearing aids will know how important it is to keep those units in top working order, particularly when communication is essential to our well being at home. Two aspects of hearing loss become strikingly important during a shelter-in-place order. In the first place, keeping your hearing aids in top working order will be crucial to their continued use. Some audiological providers and hearing healthcare centers remain open during shelter-in-place orders while others are closed for the time being. Taking the steps you can to make sure your hearing aids continue to work will eliminate the need for an unnecessary visit. The second consideration during a shelter-in-place order is to improve your communication skills, making it possible to get along easily while the home front is the context for nearly every part of life.

Hearing Aid Care and Maintenance

Most hearing aids are remarkably self-sufficient. Though you need to maintain the batteries and do some basic cleaning, most hearing aids can continue working as they should for the duration of the shelter in place order. If you have hearing aids with replaceable batteries, take the opportunity to get some backup batteries on hand. You may want to plan a curbside pickup of spare batteries from your hearing healthcare provider, or you might want to order backup batteries online. In either case, having a steady supply of replacement batteries will be crucial to the upcoming months. If you have hearing aids with rechargeable batteries, make it a point to keep them fully charged and ready for use. The conditions of shelter-in-place make communication more important than ever. When it comes to cleaning and other maintenance, don’t do more than you know how to do comfortably. Cleaning the wax chamber in some hearing aids and giving a surface cleaning with a soft, dry cloth will probably be the extent of your cleaning abilities. As long as you don’t see any visible problems with the aids, use only the techniques you know rather than risking maintenance that could do more harm than good.

Communication Skills for those with Hearing Loss

With all of your time spent at home during a shelter-in-place order, good communication is more important than ever. Some of these communication skills involve respect, active listening, and taking time to consider the effects of your words before you speak. Other communication skills are specific to those with hearing loss. If you have a loved one with hearing loss, do what you can to make communication as natural as possible. Wait until you are in the room with that person to begin talking. When possible move closer in space to make your volume naturally louder. Don’t exaggerate slowed down speech or speaking at an uncomfortable volume, because these techniques can come off as condescending, particularly when directed at an aging family member. If you are the person with hearing loss, there are things you can do to make your own communication process easier. Feel free to ask your loved ones to take simple steps to assist your hearing, such as moving closer, looking in your direction, or repeating themselves if you missed something. The worst thing you can do is pretend to hear when you are not able to do so. In these uncertain times, good communication is essential for a number of reasons, and you will need to fill in the gaps in hearing not only for your emotional well being but also for your safety. When you are able to follow these simple steps, you can make it possible to get through the shelter-in-place order as best you can. And, just imagine the coming day when you will be able to rejoin the activities you love that have been temporarily put on hold!