Lonely in the pandemic, HLAA Rochester Chapter member moves forward with a cochlear implant

Carrie Johnson

Carrie Johnson
Director of Communications
Hearing Loss Association of America

As pandemic lingers, treating hearing loss continues to prove important to enhance quality of life

By Carrie Johnson, Director of Communications, Hearing Loss Association of America

When HLAA released our survey last year in partnership with Cochlear on the impact COVID-19 had on our hearing loss community, we never thought we’d still be talking about the pandemic. 

But as the impact of the pandemic continues, the survey findings continue to be true. Face masks/coverings continue to create communication barriers for many, and feelings of isolation and loneliness persist. HLAA shared our COVID-19 Resources. However, some within the community are taking control of their health and hearing care, and using what they missed out on in the height of the pandemic to motivate them to treat their hearing loss.

Marlene Sutlif HeadshotMarlene Sutliff, 79, of Rochester, New York and an HLAA Rochester Chapter member, started to lose her hearing after brain surgery in 2001. By 2006 she could no longer function without hearing aids, by 2010 she had no hearing in her right ear, and by 2019 the hearing in her left ear had deteriorated to the point of desperation. 

After almost two years of considering a cochlear implant, the pandemic gave her that extra push to move forward. 

Sutliff received her cochlear implant in January 2021, after having increased feelings of loneliness and need for, “sharing family, love, grief, education and information,” all of which became harder throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

When Sutliff received her cochlear implant, her hearing went from 0 percent hearing to 72 percent at her activation appointment. She now acknowledges how lucky she feels to have this technology available to her, and she feels at peace knowing she made the effort to hear and contribute again. Her cochlear implant has even allowed her to understand Zoom meetings as the pandemic continues.

Sutliff believes without hearing we are left out of so much of life. She believes everyone deserves to enjoy life fully and not be forgotten when we can’t be together in person. With her cochlear implant, Sutliff now has the gift of sound, life and connection back.

COVID 19 hearing loss survey graphicIf you or a loved one notice a change in hearing or suspect a hearing loss, see these resources for help:

For questions or more information, email HLAA at inquiries@hearingloss.org.

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