MAGIC VALLEY — For one Ron and Jelinda Mosher, wearing a mask and social distancing forced them to constantly ask people to repeat themselves. Feeling frustrated and incompetent, they began to think there was something wrong with their hearing, so they decided to turn to St. Luke's for help.
“We just felt inadequate that we had to keep asking, 'What? What?' And that’s kind of humiliating when you have to do that," Jelinda Mosher said.
The couple had never thought about using hearing aids, but after hearing their options they knew that was the route they needed to take.
“It was a miracle. We didn’t realize how much in life for the last several years what we had been missing all this time and it’s been wonderful," Jelinda said.
According to St. Luke's, Ron and Jelinda are not alone. During the pandemic, they saw their hearing aid sales rise from 130 a month to 200, and in some months even more than that.
"We've had a couple of months the past six months that were record months in the history of our existence and we've been here since the early '80s," said Dr. April Ward, Idaho Elks Hearing, and Balance Audiologist and Director.
They report masks and social distancing are what have contributed to the rise in sales since some people who rely on reading lips can no longer do that with masks on, and having to social distance means people having a harder time hearing each other.
Today is #worldhearingday2021 and it's an important time to call out the impacts the #COVID19 pandemic is having on our loved ones and neighbors who are deaf or hard of hearing. This🧵will help to spotlight the problem and offer some solutions we can all try to help. pic.twitter.com/hjXwXvtPPD— Anita Kissée (@StLukesAnita) March 3, 2021
“The main reason we’re seeing that is because I think people are coming to us sooner than they may be would have before seeking assistance and seeking hearing aids because they are noticing sooner than they would have before," Ward said.
But this is something they say is positive since treating hearing loss sooner can prevent the early onset of dementia.
“So we know that treating hearing loss sooner can prevent dementia down the road or at least stave it off. Research has shown that the onset of dementia can be put off by 3-5 years by treating hearing loss with hearing aids," Ward said.
They recommend for people communicating with someone who may be having a hard time hearing you to be patient, and in some cases even write things down.
“And the other things we can do just with people who have hearing loss is if you notice that someone is struggling to hear you and you're wearing a mask is move closer to them. Maybe move them to a quieter area so they can understand you a little bit better,” Dr. Kate Savage, Idaho Elks Hearing, and Balance Audiologist, said.