Page 3 - Senior Times South Central Michigan May 2020 - 27-05
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Senior Times - May 2020 Page 3
 HEARING CARE IS ESSENTIAL
By: Hanna Klingaman, Au.D. CCC-A, Battle Creek Hearing
Hearing and communication are essential.
For many, especially those with hearing loss, the visual cues associated with commu- nication are essential for hearing.
hearing device. Not every individual can per- form this maintenance alone. Due to decreased vision and dexterity, this can be very difficult for many hearing device users. Now more than ever, it is critical that we assist our loved ones in maintaining their hearing devices.
    Did you ever realize how much you relied on visual cues? Even individuals with normal hearing are struggling when going to the store right now. When trying to communicate with someone in public who is wearing a mask, such as a clerk at the grocery store, their speech becomes muffled. Do you find yourself having to fill in the blanks because you are finding it hard to understand what the other person is saying? Maybe you are too embar- rassed to ask the person to repeat themselves for the third time? These are all encounters that someone with hearing loss experiences on a normal basis.
implement during times like this, making it even more difficult for someone with hear- ing loss to communicate. In order to protect our health and the health of others, we must be vigilant in practicing social distancing guidelines. But, what can be done to improve communication with our loved ones who have hearing loss?
For someone with hearing loss, a well-func- tioning hearing device is critical. This is especially critical when they are unable to
rely on those visual cues to lip read and gain context in the conversation from facial ges- tures. Practicing the alternative effective com- munication skills listed above is important. Maintaining your devices to allow for maxi- mum audibility is essential. Please remember to take a few minutes each day to complete routine maintenance on your hearing
We have to remember that even though we can see an individual is wearing a hearing device, it does not give them normal hearing. A hearing device is meant to assist and aid in improvement of hearing. The hearing device wearer must use effective communication strategies for successful use.
make it easier for them to understand you.1
The CDC recommends social distanc-
ing, including staying at least six feet from each other and wearing a face mask, to help prevent the spread of COVID 19. Effective strategies for communicating with individuals experiencing hearing loss recommended by many hearing care professionals, including the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), suggest maintaining a distance of 3-6 feet and keeping your face well lit, allowing for lip reading and facial gestures to aid in communication. These are strategies that we are simply unable to
Hearing device maintenance is essen-
tial to the success of hearing device users. Studies have suggested improved hearing device maintenance has been associated with improved satisfaction of hearing devices.2 Hearing devices are small, which means
it does not take much for the parts to get plugged with things like wax, dry skin, dirt, dust, etc. Once these pieces are partially or fully blocked, the device does not perform to the maximum potential. Routine maintenance can be very quick and can make a world of difference in improving the sound quality of a
If you currently wear hearing devices and feel they are weak or not working, contact your audiologist and schedule a time for main- tenance. Bring a family member, caregiver, or friend who can help you perform this mainte- nance home. Your hearing care is essential!
1. American Speech-Language-Hearing-Association.
There are many other communication strategies that can be used.
• Be sure to speak clearly.
• Do not shout at the individual.
• Do not speak too fast or too slow.
• Keep your sentences short and rephrase them
when needed.
• Make sure that the individual has
understood you.
• Try to minimize background noise.
• Ask them to tell you what you can do to
devices. If you are a caregiver checking in on someone, ask them how their hearing devices are functioning. They may need help completing maintenance, but do not know how to do this or what to do.
Maybe they are experiencing an issue with their hearing devices that you can help with. Many hearing devices have maintenance that should be routinely completed, yet many hearing device wearers do not perform this maintenance.
Everyone is different. While one person may require maintenance on their devices every four to six months, you may need the maintenance more frequently. One size does not fit all in this case.
(n.d.).Hearing loss communication tips. https://s3.ama-
zonaws.com/asha-store/products/HearingLossTipsPoster.pdf 2. Bennett, R.J., Meyer, C.J., Eikelboom, R.H., Atlas, J.D., &
Altas, M.D. (2018). Factors associated with self-reported hearing aid management skills and knowledge. American Journal of Audiology, 27(4), 604-613. https://doi.org/10.1044/2018_AJA-18-0053
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