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#59 9 Conversation Hints with Masks -

Recently I had, or I should say tried to have a conversation with someone who had a mask on. We both have decreased hearing and her voice is soft. I missed many of her words and I’m sure she missed most of mine.

Even with the help of hearing aids, we face a challenge to “catch” all the words. I find myself trying to fill in the blanks. Now with masks on and social distancing, the challenge just got bigger. Tripled?

If you belong to a support group, hopefully it is meeting online. The support groups are helpful – more helpful in person, but on the computer is the next best thing.

If you learned to read lips, the masks are a definite roadblock. It’s the same thing as someone who speaks with their hand over their mouth. A lot of people do this and I’m sure they don’t even realize it.  The ideal distance to hear someone is three to five feet. Now we are being told to stay six feet apart to avoid catching the virus. Help!!

Here are some hints that might make conversation easier.

  •  A headband with buttons for a mask’s elastic straps gets rid of the elastic behind the ears competing with hearing aids and glasses. By the way, be super careful removing a mask if you wear hearing aids. It can be easy to catch the hearing aid and even lose it. Glasses, hearing aids and now straps all behind the ear can be tricky.
  • Don’t be afraid that people will think you are staring at them while you are trying to understand what they are saying. It’s polite to look at the one talking.
  • Don’t bluff and nod as if you understand when you don’t. Much better to ask questions than to give inappropriate responses. You don’t want to reply “yes” when your answer is really “no.”
  • Don’t hesitate to ask someone to clarify what you missed. You might even suggest the speaker use different words. Be specific about which part of the conversation you missed. If you heard part of the sentence, sometimes repeating that part clarifies to the speaker what was missed.
  • If one ear is better than another, sit with that ear toward the speaker.
  • Be willing to acknowledge a hearing loss; after all, hearing loss isn’t visible to others unless the hearing aid is obvious. And many aids today don’t show at all.  
  • Background noise can prevent hearing the speaker. It’s okay to tell others the TV or music prevents good hearing.  I have even asked my waitress if she can turn down the music. With only a few tables occupied, this isn’t a problem.
  • I know it can be hard but hearing might improve by asking the speaker to slow down with their words. No need for them to shout.
  • Masks with clear plastic inserts allow the hearing impaired to lip read. Workers in nursing centers might consider making or getting such a mask.

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Readers, would a mask with a clear plastic insert help you?

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Lord, Help me to have patience with this virus. I know it takes time to develop a vaccine and treatment. Help me to handle my frustrations with others who don’t understand the relationship between hearing loss and the wearing of masks. Amen.

The Lord is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him sincerely.  Psalm 145:18


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