We’re living in unique times now with COVID-19 and social distancing, which can be challenging for everyone, in particular those with hearing loss and cochlear implants.
Below we have listed some tips covering a wide range of topics such as mental health through to video conferencing to help you with social distancing and unique times like these. Please note: All information on this page is viewed as a general guide only and doesn't constitute as health advice. When in doubt, please consult your clinician or health professional as they'll be able to advise in relation to your hearing conditions.
1) Looking After Your Mental Health;
Looking after your mental health is incredibility important and can be challenging in times where there is a lot of change happening, which has impacted people in different ways on a global scale.
2) Understanding Your Perspective
One of the most powerful things we have is our minds and our perspective of certain situations. Having a positive mindset and perspective can make all the difference in how we approach and how we continually view our current and upcoming situations especially in uncertain times.
It’s important to try and keep a positive perspective and view these times as different and unique, not all necessarily bad, even if it’s a something you didn’t expect, as in some cases there might be benefits such as time to learn a new hobby or doing things you’ve been meaning to do for a while.
Having a positive mindset and perspective can make all the difference in how we approach and how we continually view our current and upcoming situations especially in uncertain times.
3) Being Aware of Your Well-being
Even with a lot of the changes around the world, there are ways to actively manage your well-being by maintaining routine and structure where possible. Some suggestions can include:
Staying Connected - Think of creative ways to connecting with families and friends (even if not in person, there are other options like messaging, emailing). Video chats and conferences can also be a great way to communicate with visual feedback as well (which we cover more about below) and help you practice your auditory training.
Being Active - Not only is it important to try and stay mentally active but also physically active as well. These can prioritise not only what you enjoy but also a healthy lifestyle as well.
Being Kind and Generous to One Another – helping others not only help those in times of need, but also can enhance your well being too. Don’t underestimate the power you can have helping another person.
Maintain Training - Regardless of what stage you're at with your hearing device, it's important to keep training the auditory neves and keep up with your auditory training through the phone, or television and streaming services like Netflix with closed captioning. Other options can be listening to the sounds outside and around the house or practicing with auditory training apps like Hearoes. If working from home, ask your audiologist / speech pathologist if they’re hosting online classes, which can be a good way to keep up to date and communicate with others.
Looking after your Hearing Devices - Even if you're not travelling around as much outside the house, it's still important to make sure that your hearing devices and equipment are cleaned on a regular basis. This can include using dry packs (or absorb the moisture), cleaning the microphone covers and making sure you have enough batteries.
Video chats and conferences can also be a great way to communicate with visual feedback as well (which we cover more about below) and help you practice your auditory training.
4) Video Chat and Conferencing
In light of the current situation happening around the world with COVID-19, a lot of communication is now done online through video conferencing. As video chat / conferencing is a new environment for some people, there are ways to help make the most of it when communicating with others:
Using Visual Cues: One of the benefits of video chat as a communication channel is having visual as well as auditory feedback. This can be very useful to pay attention to their body language and visual like lip-reading or their expressions and their body language. Take advantage of the visual cues present in video chat.
Quiet & Well Lit Backgrounds: It can be good lighting for everyone involved, which can make all the difference for everyone. This can also be said for the background noise in your surroundings too. Sometimes the background noise may be inevitable (such as traffic outside), however, it can be good to try and minimise it as much as possible.
Making sure you understand: Don’t be afraid to let the speaker know to repeat themselves or see if they can rephrase what their saying. Sometimes it can be helpful to remind the speaker to look and speak directly at their computer or device as if they're talking to you face to face.
It's often valuable to have a pair of over the head headphones with a mic, which can help have more control over the volume output as well as the background noise too. If you have Bluetooth capabilities, whether direct or indirect, with your processor or hearing aid, it can be good to stream the audio directly to your hearing device to cut out the background noise.
Using Captions: There are some video conferencing programs have the ability for Closed Captioning, which can make it easier to understand what the speaker is saying when communicating. Two of the most popular video conferencing software that have caption support are Zoom and Microsoft Teams. You can find out more about how to use their Closed Captioning feature below: For Captioning on Zoom: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/207279736-Getting-started-with-closed-captioning For Captioning on Microsoft Teams: https://support.office.com/en-us/article/use-live-captions-in-a-teams-meeting-4be2d304-f675-4b57-8347-cbd000a21260
There are some video conferencing programs have the ability for Closed Captioning, which can make it easier to understand what the speaker is saying when communicating (such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
5) Reach out if you need Support
During these unique times, it can be challenging for everyone. If you are needed a bit of support, it’s important not to hesitate to speak up to a family member, friends, others in your community, or a professional to let them know what challenges you're having and/or how they can help. Even if you don't feel like you need support, it can be nice and important to maintain contact and continue to communicate with those around you. How has social distancing affected you? Has there been anything which has helped you during these challenging times? Share your experience in the comments below.