Learning to use your new hearing aids optimally and enjoyably will depend on many factors: your age and physical health; severity of hearing loss; how long you have had a hearing loss; and, your level of motivation to improve your hearing. Learning to hear again requires patience, practice and establishing reasonable hearing expectations. It will take a while for your ears, as well as your brain, to adjust to hearing through your hearing aids and to their physical presence. Your ear has a built-in “alarm system” that is meant to tell you that you have an intruder in your ear. It takes a while for the ear to get used to the idea of something residing in there for twelve hours a day. But don’t worry, after a few short weeks, wearing your hearing aids will be like second nature. Here are some simple tips to help you make the most of the first few weeks of wearing new hearing aids:
1. Begin with easier hearing situations: Start off slowly by wearing your hearing aids in familiar surroundings, such as around your home. After you have familiarized yourself with the operation of your hearing aids, put them on and start talking with one or two familiar people. Unless it cannot be avoided, don’t attempt to wear your hearing aids in noisy places like the supermarket, the airport or a noisy restaurant for the first day or so. Take it slow and easy. Getting used to your aids is like training for a marathon, not deciding to run a sprint race tomorrow.
2. After the “breaking-in” period: It’s important that you increase your wearing time from 5 or 6 hours the first day to using your hearing aids most of the “waking hours.” Soon, wearing them will become routine. Using your hearing aids regularly under varying conditions will teach you how to fully exploit your hearing potential and enjoy optimum benefits from your new investment.
3. Learn to observe yourself: Adapting to hearing aids will take some time. For some, it’s 6 weeks while others may need upward of 6 months. Ideally, your hearing aids should become “part of your body”, similar to glasses. To achieve this, make sure your hearing aids are fitting comfortably. Should you experience any discomfort or “pressure points” please call us right away. Wearing hearing aids and hearing a greater range of sounds may make you tired at first. Take a break if the sound seems over stimulating. Be happy with a little progress each day.
4. Learn to be an effective listener: With your new hearing aids it’s now easier to hear well and communicate effectively in both quiet and noisy situations. It is still necessary, however, for you to be an effective listener. Even people with good hearing often have to concentrate on what they want to hear and ignore or suppress the things they don’t. Try to identify any sounds you don’t recognize when you first start wearing your hearing aids. Practice concentrating on the sounds and voices you want to hear, ignoring those that are less important. When there are a number of different sounds occurring around you, practice shifting your attention from one to the other.
5. Adjust to your own voice: At first, you may not recognize the sound of your own voice. This is because you are now hearing yourself more clearly with the help of your hearing aids. Hearing yourself better means you’ll have the opportunity to adjust the volume of your voice and the way you pronounce words more easily. It’s good practice to read aloud to yourself when you’re getting used to hearing aids.
6. Learn to hear again in difficult situations: Living with noise can be unnerving when you first start out with hearing aids. The world is a noisy place. People with normal hearing are able to suppress noise to some degree by concentrating on the sounds they wish to hear. If, however, you have had hearing loss for a while, you may have lost this ability. Your mission is to live with both unpleasant and pleasant sounds. Practice concentrating on what you want to hear. If you have multi-program hearing aids, practice choosing the best program for the situation.
7. Be An Active Participant in Group Conversions: Even people who hear well can have problems understanding speech if several people are talking at the same time. So, it’s understandable if you feel overwhelmed when you are first trying to hear in large groups. It will help if you move closer to the person you want to hear and watch his/her lips. Don’t listen to the group but focus on a single speaker at a time. Experienced hearing aid wearers manage astonishing results in this type of situation with practice.
8. Listen to the radio or television: Electronically produced speech may be difficult to understand. By focusing on the general meaning the speaker is trying to convey instead of trying to decipher each word, your ability to use your hearing aids should improve. If television continues to be a problem, talk to your audiologist about accessories that might be available for your hearing aid that allow for hands-free ear-level connectivity to your TV or other audio equipment.
9. Try using the telephone with a hearing aid: There are a number of options available for improving how you can hear on the phone. Remember where the microphones are on your instrument and try to place the receiver over the microphone. This will ensure the best possible pick-up of the sound and by doing so, improve the likelihood of your being able to hear on the phone.
While not an inclusive list, we hope that this short list of tips will help you be successful with your new hearing aids. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to call our office at any time. We’d love to work with you through the first months on your journey to better hearing. Call us anytime!
That’s why we’re here!