If you’ve been wearing hearing aids for a while, you’re
Adjusting to New Hearing Aids
If you live with hearing loss, getting hearing aids can be a complete game changer. Using hearing aids has been shown to significantly improve your ability to communicate, your quality of life and your overall health. From improving your cognitive skills to reducing anxiety to strengthening your bond to family and friends, treating hearing loss is the right choice.
At first though, many people find that hearing aids aren’t what they expect. Unlike putting on a new pair of glasses, a hearing aid doesn’t immediately correct your damaged hearing. While your hearing aid is specifically programmed for your hearing loss pattern, the enhanced sound may sound unbalanced or disconcerting at first.
Don’t worry! With a short adjustment period, your hearing will naturally adapt to your new hearing aids. Hearing loss changes the way our brain processes sounds and this adjustment period marks a phase of your brain re-learning how to hear sounds it is no longer used to. This adaptation will happen naturally as you get used to your devices, but here are a few tips for speeding up the process.
Practice Makes Perfect
The first key tip for adapting to your new hearing aids is to wear them. While the feeling of new devices may be alien to you at first, the more you wear your hearing aids, the better they will serve you. Make a commitment to wear your devices for at least 3 hours every day. Gradually ramp up the time spent wearing your new hearing aids – by the end of two weeks you should be wearing them full time during your waking day. Remember, this phase is temporary and the more you wear your hearing aids the better and more comfortable they will become.
Pause and Listen
Part of getting used to your new hearing aids will be paying attention to the way things sound. Early on, take some time out of your day to quietly listen to your surroundings. See what noises you can pick up and try to determine the direction the noise is coming from.
Low-key practice conversations can also help you adjust to your new hearing aids and the way speech sounds. Try having short, small-talk conversations with family or friends once a day. This can help retrain your brain to recognize speech.
Adjusting to hearing aids can be entertaining! One trick for getting used to recognizing and comprehending speech is to read along with an audio track. You can try this with your favorite films or TV shows by turning on Closed Captioning so you can see what is being said as you hear it. Another approach to this would be to read a book or ebook while listening to an audiobook recording of the same text.
As hearing loss limited the sounds you heard, it eroded the connection between hearing speech and comprehending its meaning. Listening to speech while reading assists the brain in re establishing that connection between sound and meaning.
While it may sound odd to take notes on how you hear, the practice can help you and your hearing specialist. Especially when you first begin wearing hearing aids, certain sounds will jump out at you as disconcerting, overly loud or uncomfortable. Make note of these sounds, and during your adjustment period keep adding to your list of sounds that trouble you with your new devices.
Before your first follow-up with your hearing specialist, review your notes and cross off sounds that your hearing has adjusted to. Many people are surprised to see that their hearing has adapted to most of the sounds that initially bothered them! Bring your complete list to your hearing specialist for your follow-up adjustments – it can help them to see which sounds you’ve been able to adapt to and which still seem unbalanced. They can then have a more nuanced picture of how to tweak your hearing aids’ programming to suit your needs.
Don’t Give Up!
The benefit of hearing aids may not be immediately evident to you as you first try them on -but don’t despair! An adjustment period to hearing devices is common and natural. With a commitment to wearing your new devices and a little listening practice, you’ll be amazed how rapidly your ears adapt to better, easier hearing with hearing aids.