Helping seniors with hearing loss during coronavirus pandemic

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – For several years, Chip Shealy has been paying regular visits to a hearing specialist.

“I don’t hear high frequencies well. My hearing just has deteriorated generally with age,” he said.

And during this time of the coronavirus pandemic, wearing masks has made it even harder to understand what people are saying.

“Yes, because you’re hard of hearing, you depend on seeing people’s mouth a lot for context clues and just the formation of the words, particularly things like 's-h’s, it’s a lot easier when you can see their mouth,” he said.

That’s why Dr. Valerie Rosetti with Florida Hearing Matters in Fort Lauderdale is using clear masks around her patients.

“If the face is covered, it might be hard for them to identify who the person greeting them is and what is being said,” Rosetti said.

While clear face shields have been around for some time, Rosetti chose a design that provides extra protection.

“With the face shield, the lower area is still open and since this is an airborne virus we wanted to make sure both our patients and our staff were safe by having it fully encapsulate the face,” she said.

The clear shields are sealed around the chin area.

“It makes all the difference, absolutely,” Shealy said.

Rossetti also encouraged her patients to wear their hearing aids even when they’re home alone to support their overall brain health.

“We want to keep the brain engaged to sound and exercise the hearing nerves. That will prevent further deterioration of clarity and people will have better hearing in the long run,” she said.

About the Authors: