The new normal introduced face masks and social distancing to everyone's daily routines. It became a requirement before people can enter establishments or do activities outside, such as grocery shopping and working out.
As for people with hearing aids, wearing masks bring them several challenges. First, face masks make it tricky to understand what other people are saying because it alters the sound and reduces the volume when someone speaks. Second, it covers the mouth; therefore, reading lip movement and facial expressions is difficult. Lastly, keeping hearing aids in place while putting on, wearing and removing a face mask.
What are hearing aids?Hearing aids are electronic devices that make a sound louder for people with hearing loss. This device helps them listen, communicate and participate in daily activities. The Hearing Care Industry Association stated that one in six Australians suffer from hearing loss, and it's predicted to increase by 2050 to one in four. On the other hand, only one of five Australians in need of hearing aids use one.
Hearing aids have three different styles: worn behind the ear, in the ear and the canal. Among these three styles, behind-the-ear hearing aids often make it a struggle to wear face masks.
How to Properly Wear Face Masks If You Have Hearing Aids
For a majority of Australians, wearing face masks is as easy as wearing a new set of clothes. It can only take a few minutes, and you're ready to step out the door.
But for people wearing hearing aids, it's a different story — they need to be careful every time they wear face masks. If not:
- Hearing aids can get entangled with the mask's ear loops.
- The mask's elastic can cause discomfort or irritate skin behind the ears.
- Quickly removing face masks often send hearing aids flying or dropping to the ground.
- They may even forget to wear hearing aids since they have already worn something else.
Wear face masks with ease. Here's a list of solutions to help you and the people you love with hearing aids wear masks comfortably and without the worry of losing hearing devices.
- Look for masks that can be tied - Getting face masks that have four strings you can tie at the back of your head allows you to easily adjust its fit size and position. With this, straps won't be able to touch the back of your ears, reducing the risk of dropping or throwing off hearing aids. Unfortunately, there are not many reusable masks on the market with straps like these, so finding one could be difficult.
- Hook mask to a strap extender - Strap extenders are those long strips where you can hook the mask. You place it at the back of your head, so it stretches the elastic loop, keeping the mask in place and the loops away from the back of the ears and hearing aids
- Use a headband with buttons as an alternative to strap extenders - Aside from strap extenders, you can also use headbands with buttons attached to both sides to hold the face mask. Get a mask that can be adjusted to make it easier to reach the buttons or hooks and have a snug fit.
Wrap the mask's loop around tied hair - If you have long hair, it's best to tie your hair or pull it into a bun. This will make it easier to loop the mask's elastic around your tied hair, keeping the mask away from your ears. Looping it along your hair will also keep the mask in place.
- Remove the mask slowly at home while in an open area - When you get home, make sure to remove the mask slowly and within an open area. This will make it easier to find hearing aids in case it accidentally falls off and drops to the floor.
- In Case of Losing Hearing Aids - If the hearing aids do fall off when outside while wearing or after removing a face mask, the first step is to not panic. Double-check nearby surroundings first before looking back to the places you visited before realising you were not wearing hearing aids anymore.
Wear Masks Carefully, Communicate Properly
For people with hearing aids, talking to people with face masks make it difficult for them to understand the conversation. They rely on facial expressions and lip reading to help them understand what other people are saying. However, masks cover the mouth of the speaker, muffling sound and blocking lip movement and facial expressions. It can also lower the volume of the speaker's voice.
If you're communicating with a person with hearing loss, it's best to speak as slowly and clearly as possible for the other person to understand. Also, make sure to use visual cues to clearly convey emotions and tone you are speaking in.
Wearing a mask for people with hearing aids, on the other hand, makes it difficult for them to keep their hearing aids in place. Fortunately, there are alternatives to make it easier to wear face masks whenever needed. Choose face masks that have four strings you can tie behind your head.
Another great alternative is to use masks with adjustable loops to easily hook it to headbands with buttons, an ear strap extension and even your tied hair. Doing this will help keep masks comfortable and away from the hearing aids. Clear Collective has a wide selection of face masks that provides protection and comfort at the same time. From reusable face masks with interchangeable filters to masks you can wear to the gym, events or with the family, you can find the face mask you need on every occasion.