If you’ve ever been hospitalized and wear hearing aids, you know that having a hearing loss can present a special challenge. While some might advise you to leave your hearing aids at home so you don’t lose them, it’s important you have your hearing aids with you and wear them whenever possible. Why is it important to have your hearing aids with you?
A hospitalization often indicates that you need special care and instructions. If you don’t have a family member at your side to help you interpret what the doctors and nurses are saying, your hearing aids are essential. Hearing well helps you better understand their directions and communicate effectively with your caregivers. Here are some tips to be sure you can hear well if you’re hospitalized.
- Take your hearing aids with you but be sure to keep them in a specially marked pouch or container so that they don’t get thrown away with the trash on your tray. Never put your hearing aids in a napkin or paper towel that can easily be mistaken for trash.
- Tell your healthcare providers that you wear hearing aids so that they’re aware of the situation.
- Wear your hearing aids as you would at home. Just be careful not to shower with them in or get them wet. If you have a surgery or procedure where you can’t have your hearing aids in, store them in a safe place, like a drawer in the bedside nightstand, until you are back in your room.
- Don’t forget extra batteries or if your hearing aids are rechargeable, don’t forget your charger so that you can continue to use them throughout your stay.
- If you use a drying kit at home, take it with you to the hospital, and if you have assistive listening devices that help you communicate better, bring those along too.
- When talking with a physician, nurse, or other provider, be sure to look at their facial expressions. Because healthcare providers are still wearing masks, you can’t usually see their lips. That makes it hard to catch visual cues. But, if you can see their eyes and other facial expressions, it can be helpful in interpreting what’s being said.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask your providers to repeat themselves. It may seem frustrating, but if you didn’t hear something or don’t understand, it’s best to ask for an explanation. You also can ask your healthcare provider to write the information down so that you don’t miss any important information.
- Be sure to turn up the lights. Hospital rooms can sometimes be dark. Lights can make it easier for you to see your doctors and nurses and can enhance visual cues.
- Turn off the TV and other devices. When a healthcare provider enters your room, turn your TV down or off so that you can give the healthcare provider your full attention. With monitors beeping and machines running, hospital rooms are full of enough distractions.
- If you notice your hearing aids are missing, check the sheets, pillows and bed immediately. Hearing aids can often fall out when lying in bed or during a procedure. In case of accidental loss, make sure to work with the hospital staff, especially if devices were lost while under their care or supervision. In addition, you may want to make sure you have appropriate loss/damage coverage in the unfortunate event where a device goes missing or gets damaged.
If you have special concerns regarding wearing your hearing aids in the hospital, talk with a doctoral-level audiologist.