It may seem like years since you’ve been able to hold a conversation or hear over the phone due to hearing loss. The good news is, that when you invest in hearing aids you can start to hear some long lost sounds and rebuild relationships that may have become stressed due to hearing issues. To ensure that you have the best experience possible it is important to know what to expect when adjusting to your new hearing aids. It doesn’t happen overnight and in the worst case scenario you don’t give yourself enough time to get used to them, negating the very important positive benefits of these tiny high tech devices. Here are a few tips to help ensure success in this new chapter of your life of hearing clear.
What to expect in the beginning
It takes people on average seven to ten years, from the time they suspect they have a hearing loss, to invest in hearing aids. This means that a decade can pass for most while sounds of speech are muffled and spatial relationships are compromised due to poor hearing. When you first start wearing your hearing aids, even the sound of your own voice may sound jarring. It may have been years since you’ve heard the sounds of birds or the wind in the trees. It takes a while to get used to them.
Relearning how to hear background noise
The time when you first start wearing hearing aids is referred to as the familiarization period. It may take a while before you can hear the full range of sounds. Because you are hearing so many sounds again it can take your brain a while to understand which sounds to suppress and which to prioritize. It’s important to be patient and make sure you give yourself time to relearn. One of the worst things you can do is to give up before you have a chance to adjust.
It’s okay to take breaks
To help your brain get used to your new ambient noise levels with hearing aids it’s important to wear your hearing aids every day, from the moment you wake up till the time you go to bed (only to be removed when bathing or swimming). However, the first couple of days, it is okay to take breaks and acclimate to your new hearing. Try to go longer every day. At first try wearing your hearing aids only at home. Try to challenge yourself by listening while watching TV or try talking over the phone. As you become more confident you can try wearing your hearing aids on an outing. By two weeks you should try to wear your hearing aids daily. You may find it helpful to write down your experiences and problems in a hearing diary. This way you take note of progress and illuminate issues you can express to your audiologist. When you are specific about the issues you are having, your audiologist will have more knowledge about how to optimize your listening experience.
Hearing and brain training
Your brain has to relearn how to hear. Like a muscle, the more you use and target specific parts of the brain the easier listening tasks can be. To make this easier on yourself you can try these brain training exercises to improve hearing. Try these exercises daily to improve your hearing aid experience.
- Localization: Besides deciphering conversation an important function of hearing is the ability to locate sounds. This helps determine spatial relationships and can help you to stay safe as you navigate the world. To practice this skill, try going to a busy outdoor location. Try to isolate specific sounds. Close your eyes and try to understand the direction and proximity of the sound to improve concentration and working memory.
- Targeted hearing: One of the biggest hurdles with hearing aids is hearing in a crowded space. Try spending time in a crowded area and focus on the source of sounds to improve selective hearing. This can help you to follow conversation amongst the noise.
- Double information: Ask two people to speak about different things on either side of you. Try to follow both conversations in order to improve your speech comprehension.
Hearing aids can improve relationships, increase earnings at work, reduce stress, depression, the danger of cognitive decline and more. Getting used to hearing aids can be a challenge but it’s worth it.