Advice on How to Transition to Wearing Hearing Aids
Have you just been fitted for new hearing aids? Welcome to a whole new world of clear sounds! Whether you are new to hearing aids or you’ve just upgraded to a new pair, there is a period of transition to get used to the experience of hearing aids.
Most people wait awhile before they get their hearing tested – about seven years from the time they first notice changes in their hearing. During this time, untreated hearing loss alters the way we access and receive sounds. Eventually, you’ll get used to missing certain sounds.
As such, when we first put in hearing aids, the sounds we’ve been missing will be clear again, which may be overwhelming. Here, we provide some advice and tips for adjusting to new hearing aids.
Start Slowly with a Few Hours a Day
Unlike eyeglasses, with which you can see clearly and wear all day immediately, hearing aids take a bit of time to adjust. Our sense of hearing is linked to directionality, our ability to locate sounds from different directions. Hearing aids come with noise cancellation features, and speech recognition and focus features. These features help us to hone in on sounds around us, and they can be disorienting at first.
When you are first fitted for your aids, begin wearing them for a few hours a day. Your brain must re-train to hear these sounds, which may require a bit of effort.
Wear Your Aids in Quiet Spaces
Because sounds are more clearly amplified now with your hearing aids, it may be overwhelming to take them out on the town. Wear your hearing aids for a few days in your bedroom, then move to other parts of the house. Get used to the experiences of sounds in different spaces with different acoustics in your home.
Don’t Turn Down the Volume
Though it may feel like everything is very loud, try not to readjust the volume on your aids! Your hearing specialist will have worked out the best level for your hearing abilities. The reality is, you are now accessing sounds that you haven’t heard in a while, so it will be a strange experience Rather than turning down the volume, allow your brain to get used to the variety of amplified sounds you are experiencing.
Practice Listening to Your Own Voice
It may seem strange to hear your own voice, believe it or not! The experience of having aids in your ear could make your own voice louder in your head. Get used to the sounds of your own voice by reading a book aloud to yourself while you’re wearing your hearing aids.
Practice Conversation with Small Groups
Speech recognition is a challenge that is addressed with the use of hearing aids. If you remember a time before you were fitted for aids, you may recall how it sounded like people were mumbling and you had a difficult time following conversations. With hearing aids, speech sounds are much clearer. Hearing aids are designed to features to specifically address speech sounds.
After you’ve had some practice with your hearing aids around the house, consider having a small group of people over. Over coffee or a meal, practice the experience of conversing with hearing aids. Ask your friends and loved ones to help you with the process, and catch up with the latest gossip and news in the process! You’ll find that conversations will be more cohesive now, and you won’t find yourself asking people to repeat themselves.
Watch TV and Movies with Captions On
To get used to visuals and audio together, watch TV and movies with captions on. This will help you check to make sure you’re getting everything. Also, keep the volume at a “normal” volume for everyone else in the room. Before your hearing aids, you may have noticed that you had the volume turned up high on the TV. Keep the volume at a level that is comfortable for your companions and practice listening with your aids.
Practice Listening Exercises
Directionality is an important feature provided by hearing aids. To practice this experience, close your eyes and try to identify the sounds around you. Are they coming from in front or behind? Is that bird chirping to your right or left; is that car horn down the road behind you or in front of you? By practicing, you’ll have a better grasp in real-life situations of the directions of sounds.
Work Your Way Up to Wearing Your Aids All Day
The goal, eventually, is to wear your hearing aids all day. You’ll find, eventually, that your hearing aids are an essential part of your life. They keep you in the loop, connected to your surroundings, and facilitate clear communication with your friends and loved ones. As you get more comfortable with your aids, wear them for longer periods of time until you can wear them all day.