Congratulations! You have embarked upon the journey to better hearing. For many people, this decision was not an easy one, but you are here and should be proud that you have taken your hearing health into your hands.
Hearing aids are essentially little computers in your ears. They are programmed specifically for your hearing loss by your hearing healthcare professional and help you to hear better by amplifying the sounds in your environment. Hearing aids have many built-in features that help filter environmental sounds in accordance with what it “thinks” you want to hear (e.g., speech sounds) while dampening the sounds that are obtrusive (e.g., background noise).
Many people have lived with their hearing loss for many years before they start wearing hearing aids. As a result, the transition to hearing aid use might not be as fast or easy as one might expect. This is due to the fact that your brain has become comfortable living in a quieter world because your hearing loss prevents you from hearing sounds in the way that it should. Adapting to your hearing aids will take time and effort.
Tips for New Users
Wear Your Hearing Aids Regularly
You paid a lot of money for these devices and your goal should be to wear them as much as possible. Do not only wear them when you “think” you will need them (e.g., going to a restaurant). It takes your brain time to adapt to the sounds that your hearing loss prevented you from hearing. Your hearing aids are doing their job by allowing you to hear them again. Your voice will sound different, environmental sounds will take time to adjust to, and people may sound too loud. Through regular usage and exposure, your brain will learn to tolerate this new way of hearing sound.
Set Realistic Expectations
Many people have the unrealistic expectation that hearing aids should allow you to hear perfectly in all conditions, all of the time. Many also “want” to hear what they “want” to hear and “not hear” what they don’t. These are detrimental fallacies that can impact your hearing aid satisfaction. Yes, hearing aids will help you to hear better in most environments, but we must remember that hearing aids do not restore “normal” hearing. Also remember, that even individuals without hearing loss do not hear perfectly in all conditions, all of the time. The more challenging the listening environment is, the more difficult it is to hear. We live in a noisy world with a multitude of noises and can not selectively remove what we don’t want to listen to. Individuals without hearing loss can not turn off background noises, they simply learn to ignore those sounds. Hearing aid users must have the same mindset. Your hearing aids are working for you, and if you work with them you will eventually see the benefits they offer.
Remember Your Trial Period
Presumably, you and your hearing healthcare provider have engaged in an active discussion about what your hearing needs are and what hearing aid(s) best suits your needs. Once you are fit with your hearing aids, you will have a trial period. The trial period allows you to wear your hearing aids and ensure you are satisfied with their performance. In the event that you are not satisfied, this period enables you to return and/or exchange your hearing aids (costs may vary). I would encourage you to wear your hearing aids as much as possible during this period and schedule a follow-up appointment with your audiologist before this period ends to address any issues you may have. If your issues can not be resolved, simply return or exchange your hearing aids within the trial period. Remember, hearing aids do not serve anyone by sitting in a drawer and your audiologist wants you to be happy with your hearing aids.
Practice and Patience
This is not an easy adjustment. Remember to be kind to yourself and be patient with the process. Hearing aids take a lot of work. It takes time to get used to listening with your hearing aids on. Moreover, tasks such as changing batteries, putting your hearing aids on and manipulating accessories and controls can be overwhelming for many. Patience is key when learning how to use your hearing aids and it will become second-nature over time.
Trust Your Audiologist
Your audiologist is a highly skilled professional who has prescribed and programmed your hearing aid(s) in accordance with your hearing needs. Your devices are set to match specific “targets” that ensure you are obtaining the appropriate amplification. These targets are universally adopted and based on many years of research. Things may sound “too loud” at prescribed settings, but remember that these settings provide the most benefit for your particular hearing level and every effort should be made to wear at these settings. Remember, you have embarked on this journey to hear better and your audiologist is there to support you in this process.
We hope you found these tips helpful! Please check back next week for a new blog post.