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Whether we like it or not, face masks are here to stay — at least until there’s a widely available COVID-19 vaccine. And that is at best months and months away.

Until then, overwhelming medical advice is to wear masks when out and about. It’s one of the few ways for people to restrict the spread of the COVID virus while still interacting.

Anyone who’s already worn a mask while using a hearing aid has probably had a few rough patches. Especially with masks that have elastic ear loops, it’s easy to hook a hearing aid when taking off a mask, yanking it out. It can also be uncomfortable to have the loops and behind-the-ear hearing aids in place for an extended period of time — especially if eyeglasses are in the mix as well.

Then there’s the fact that you can’t see a person’s mouth when they are speaking, which makes hearing far more difficult.

The best solution to this dilemma is making sure the person who is talking knows you’re hard of hearing and that they need to speak clearly and slowly. This is no time for false pride.

As far as the mechanics of wearing a mask go, there are a couple of tricks out there already. One is to forego masks with elastic ear loops and use those with tie strings instead. Another is including a mask holder in your COVID-19 toolkit; these are s-hooks, loops with buttons or snaps, or similar devices that connect the two elastic ear loops at the back of the head (instead of on each ear).

Your hearing health professional may have some ideas as well — especially tricks that work with specific hearing aid models.

- Associates In Hearing HealthCare
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