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Is That Mask Making You Depressed
Posted by Roseann B. Kiefer, BC-HIS on July 09, 2020
The effects of COVID 19 will be far reaching. While more people are surviving the dreaded virus; it is still not known exactly how much long lasting damage will have been done to their bodies. Aside from actually contracting the illness there are also side effects from a ripple that turned into a giant wave of problems. These problems or situations include school closures, business closures, church closures, and simply put....life...changing from what we once knew.
From kids to adults...the things we were once used to doing to entertain ourselves just rapidly disappeared. Many people found themselves depressed and isolated. Seniors especially who lived by themselves or even in assisted living facilities where suddenly “all by themselves”. Many people in our society find great comfort in going shopping just to be around people. For many, their main sound input is now the TV or radio. So much of TV is negative. This COVID 19 has left many...just isolated.
Hearing loss and COVID 19 share in the similarities of the feelings of isolation and depression. For people who have hearing loss; the masks that we must now wear are a double edge sword. Depending upon the type of masks they will take out between 8db and 14dB of sound pressure or volume. Most of that loss will be in the high frequencies which provide most of our speech understanding. The masks also take out the ability for people to read lips. Even the masks that have the clear shield so people can read the lips.. still have reduced facial expressions available.
It is important that when speaking... to speak up just a little bit when wearing a mask. Conversational speech between two people is at about 60db. The mask can drop this volume by approximately one fourth. Everyone has more difficulty understanding someone with a mask on...but for someone who already has hearing problems...even if they already wear a hearing aid then it is so much more difficult.
The inability to understand others causes extra stress on the hearing impaired. It causes people to feel isolated and thus; they withdrawal further. If you are having a hearing problem then it is time to get a hearing evaluation by a qualified Board Certified Hearing Health Care Provider. If you wear hearing instruments then we suggest having your hearing instrument have an additional “memory” or “program” set to accommodate for this “mask factor”.
As always...speak directly to whom you are having a conversation. Speak up a little if there is a mask involved. Be patient while waiting on a person to respond. A person with a hearing loss is working much harder to understand than someone with normal hearing. If you need to repeat something...change up the words and rephrase the sentence. Hopefully, the masks will be just a bit of history one day. Until then, be kind, and be helpful. Help others to hear you. To Hear Better Is to Live Better!!