THE VILLAGES, Fla. – The pandemic has had a ripple effect on so many of aspects of our lives but for people wearing hearing aids, it could be especially expensive. Many are losing their very costly devices when they remove their face coverings.
Dr. Paige Holt, AuD, says her practice in The Villages gets four to five calls a week from people who need to replace one.
“They take their mask off their ear, the hearing aid gets tangled and usually goes flying,” Holt said. “They don’t realize it for several hours.”
Holt said the calls started coming in shortly after the pandemic started.
“We immediately thought we have to do something,” Holt remembers.
A set of hearing aids can range between $2,000 to $6,000.
“We tried a few things, plastic things that would hold the mask off their ears and we saw that other people on the internet and on Facebook were making these mask mates. My grandmother, years ago, taught me to crochet so I brushed up on my skills,” Holt said. “People were making them for nurses but we adapted them to be made for our hearing aid patients.”
Mask mates are small bands with buttons sewn on the ends. The wearer attaches the elastic to the buttons and the mask mate goes behind your head instead of around your ears.
Jan Sharp has been a patient of Holt for more than 16 years.
“Wearing hearing aids changes your whole quality of life,” Sharp said. “So to lose one it’s a big, expensive deal to the wearer. I would be lost without mine.”
Sharp said she hasn’t lost one and credits Holt’s device, which is why she nominated Holt for the News 6 Getting Results Award.
“When she showed me this, I was thrilled and delighted,” Sharp said.
Holt and coworker Mindy Pollitt have made thousands of the colorful bands for their patients.
“I have a spread sheet,” Holt said, laughing.
“I crochet every evening for a couple of hours,” she said, adding that she also spends most lunch breaks with yarn in her hands.
“It’s been an enjoyable thing. We’ve had fun picking out the yarn with different colors,” Holt said. “I never like to hear that someone has lost a hearing aid because your hearing is your lifeline.”