While these warnings are usually directed towards those with cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure and heart disease, those with hearing loss should also be on alert. Hearing loss is often an early symptom of many high-risk conditions such as heart disease. One study even found that hearing loss is 54% more likely to occur in those with heart disease than the general population.

Additionally, hearing-loss patients relying on telehealth may be at risk of medication and treatment errors as communication is more complicated. Older people are also less likely to be technically savvy, leading to them missing appointments altogether. 

So what can be done? Here are a few tips those with hearing loss can follow to make sure they aren’t behind on getting all the facts and treatment during the pandemic.

Bring an advocate.

If you are headed to a hospital or clinic, choose an advocate like a family member or friend who can serve as your second set of ears. That person should bring a notepad and pen and write down all of the doctor’s instructions. This person can also help answer all of your questions and translate anything you don’t remember at home.

Have a plan.

Clearly establish your symptoms, your questions, who you are seeing, and where they are in the building. You may even want to bring along your doctor’s phone number in case you get lost. As the pandemic is transforming some hospitals, you may be meeting in an unfamiliar building or location. The less time you spend wandering around the building, the less likely you will catch the virus. 

Bring clear masks.

Unfortunately, most face masks worn by the public and medical community are not transparent, contributing to the communication breakdown once you are on site. If you or your loved one has begun to rely on lip-reading, be sure to bring and use a clear face mask. You may also ask the doctor if they can use one. If not, an experienced doctor should know how to use exaggerated body language. 

Use a handheld personal whiteboard both you and the medical staffer can use to exchange messages. You can also print out a page or medical placard saying you are hard of hearing and need hospital staff to communicate with you differently. 

Consider technology.

If you are tech-savvy, many apps can provide captions for live speech. Consider speech-to-text apps like:

Other options include using wired microphones you can attach to your body to pick up sounds and speech that can make it easier for your hearing device to pick up.

Use an interpreter.

If all else fails, consider remote video interpreting to make sure your communication is clear. It uses videoconferencing technology, equipment, and a high-speed Internet connection with sufficient bandwidth to provide the services of an interpreter, usually located at a call center, to people at a different location.