The most common call to my office for lost hearing aids is that the individual was in the hospital or rehabilitation facility when the hearing aids were lost. Another common place to lose hearing aids is in a test situation, such as having an MRI, an outpatient procedure or other situation that requires you to remove hearing aids at a facility.
You need to wear the hearing aids prior to testing because you want to hear what is being said. Decisions are being made creating an element of stress surrounding any procedure done in a medical facility. I have heard people say that they leave their hearing aids at home so they do not have to worry about them being lost. I propose another idea.
Plan ahead. If you are able to take someone with you, then formally ask that person to keep your valuables in a chosen container. Show them the container and tell them what goes into it – perhaps your glasses, wallet and jewelry. You will be distracted prior to any procedure and by rehearsing what you want done will increase your success. I recommend that you “create” a small hard case container specifically for the hearing aids with large print that says “HEARING AIDS.” The hearing aid box that comes supplied with hearing aids is too small for this job. You want a larger case that is easily seen. How about purchasing a bright colored container to label as your hearing aid box? Put a few extra new batteries in this case as a backup. Taped inside the lid of the box, you want to write your name, contact information and perhaps instructions, such as “red color goes into the right ear, battery size is 312 and open the battery door if the aid is not being used.” Put the business card of your audiologist inside the hearing aid box. This can be used if more information is needed by someone taking care of you. Protect your investment. Being proactive will help a family member or caregivers understand what to do with the aids.
If you are hospitalized, it is important to hear what is going on and be involved in the decisions that are being made on your behalf. Take your travel hearing aid box with you and once again formally show the box to the people who will be attending to you during your stay. Anyone that sees your box will understand where to put your hearing aids if they are to be removed while you sleep and they will be able to help you find them after you wake up. A well-marked storage box declares “these hearing aids are important to me!” For an extended stay, your travel box needs at least two weeks’ of batteries and cleaning supplies.
Do not assume that people will be able to help you put the hearing aids into your ears. Many people living with individuals that wear hearing aids have never even seen how the aid is placed into the ear canal. Teach people how to put the aids into your ears, change the battery, clean out the wax and turn the aids on and off. A knowledgeable person able to help out with your hearing aids is priceless.
A sudden illness may render you unable to remove the hearing aids from your ears and put them away properly. The better you communicate with family members about the care of your hearing aids prior to becoming ill, the more likely your stay away from home will be seamless. By teaching many different friends and family members how to care for your hearing aids, you increase the odds that the person with you will be able to help you if the need arises.
Another recommendation is to type out a paper with instructions on the best way to communicate with you. Use a large font and write out the following: I have a hearing loss, please face me when you are talking and speak slowly and clearly. The hearing aids help me hear louder so you do not need to shout. This can be taped to a hospital bed or wall near you and you can point to it if someone is speaking too fast or not facing you. Health care providers are happy to accommodate your needs but may not realize what your hearing needs are. This simple paper taped to the wall will help anyone who enters your room understand how to communicate with you.
By Dr. Karon Lynn, Au.D.
Trinity Hearing Center is located at 1330 N. Rim Dr., Suite B in Flagstaff. For more information, call 928-522-0500, or visit the website at www.TrinityHearing.net. Karon Lynn is a doctor of audiology and practices at Trinity Hearing Center. She has 30 years of experience working with hearing impaired individuals. Dr. Lynn may be reached at 928-522-0500, or by email at email@example.com.