There’s no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has been a lonely time for people across the globe. This is especially true for people with hearing loss, who are already at risk for social isolation and feelings of loneliness.
What Are the Challenges of Hearing Loss & Social Distancing?
It’s not surprising that numerous studies show a significant connection between hearing loss, loneliness, and social isolation. Hearing loss affects communication patterns, which impact relationships with others. And lately, our communication patterns have taken a drastic turn.
One particular concern is the increased reliance on remote communication technologies. Putting a voice to the face is no longer an option in many cases and sound distortion while e-conferencing makes it difficult to distinguish who is talking and what’s being said.
These factors can leave people less able and less willing to communicate, leading to social withdrawal, isolation and loneliness – all are risk factors for anxiety and depression, which hearing loss sufferers are at an increased risk of developing aside from a pandemic.
How to Stay Connected
There are strategies for staying connected and preventing feelings of frustration and loneliness:
- Use video call to communicate with your loved ones in order to practice listening skills
- Get a captioned phone to make work and personal calls easier
- Incorporate sound therapy and relaxation strategies to relieve tinnitus and ease anxiety
- Reach out to HR or the Office of Disabilities Services to ensure you’re accessing all the resources available to you
- Call your audiologist to discuss tips for staying connected and to address any hearing aid-related issues
When navigating digital communication, be sure to:
- Tell listening partners you have hearing loss and give suggestions about how they can help communicate to you effectively.
- Ask people to repeat, rephrase or speak louder when necessary.
- Use visual cues by asking people to turn on their camera; watch their lips, expressions and gestures.
- Wear your glasses.
- Use good lighting (from behind you).
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call the experts at LeMay Hearing & Balance today.