When using a hearing aid for the first time, the experience can be a bit confusing, especially if your hearing loss came about gradually over several years. There are sounds you probably haven’t heard (or heard clearly) in quite some time, and your brain needs to readjust to interpreting those sounds. Here are 10 adjustment tips for first time hearing aid users.
- Give yourself time.
Many people say to not compare your hearing aids to your glasses, and for the most part, they’re right. You immediately see sharper images when you put on a new pair of eyeglasses, but hearing aids take some time to get accustomed to. Don’t expect your brain to remember how to hear, identify, and interpret every sound instantly. Hearing aids may even feel a bit odd at first on your ears, don’t be alarmed if you need to wear them for a few days, or even weeks, before they become comfortable.
When you first put on your hearing aids, sit in a quiet spot at home. This will allow you to get used to the new sound quality in your living space. There will probably be a number of noises that may seem unusually loud at first–such as the hum of the air conditioning, the clock ticking, or the beeping of your microwave oven–but this because you haven’t heard these sounds properly in some time. This is completely normal. Your brain is just getting reacquainted with these sounds.
- Start small.
Re-acquiring your hearing skills takes practice. When you’re using a hearing aid for the first time, start by wearing them for only a few hours at a time. If it gets to the point where you feel exhausted or overwhelmed you can remove them, but try to wear them a little longer every day. The longer you wear them, the better you’ll get at identifying sounds, interpreting voices, and focusing on what you’re hearing.
- Read aloud.
Prior to getting hearing aids, you may have been told to “stop shouting” from time to time. It’s natural to begin talking loudly when you experience hearing loss, but now you can properly regulate your own volume. A good way to get in the habit of this is by reading to yourself while wearing your hearing aids. It not only helps you determine the appropriate volume for speech, but it also will help you get better at recognizing the sounds of words and speech again.
- Pair reading and listening as often as possible.
Whenever you are reading a book, read along with the matching audio book. When enjoying television, watch with closed captioning. Reading along while you listen will help your brain further get reacquainted with associating sounds, words, and speech. Little things like this can make the hearing aid adjustment process a bit faster.
- Enlist the help of family and friends.
Loved ones can be really helpful during the hearing aid adjustment process. First, these visits can give you an opportunity to practice speaking comfortable in a group. This will help your brain relearn the associations between sounds, words, and nonverbal body language.
Try to practice with people you know well, since these familiar voices are the easiest for your brain to identify and interpret. Your loved ones also can help you adjust by setting the television at a comfortable volume to their ears, giving you the chance to listen and adjust to these new volumes. You shouldn’t be turning the volume on your television higher than a person without hearing loss would, or you could further damage your hearing.
- Keep a hearing journal.
Keep track of and write down any noises that you hear that bother or irritate you. If your clock’s ticking seems too loud and starts to annoy you after a couple days, make a note of it. If you still struggle to hear conversations in a crowded restaurant, write it down. By keeping track of your hearing struggles, you can later discuss these issues with a hearing aid specialist.
- Keep realistic goals.
Think about phone conversations. Even with the best phones, there is still that subtle difference to the sound as a voice is transmitted over a phone line or via cellular signal. The same goes for the sounds you hear with your hearing aids. You’re going to experience those sounds a little different through hearing aids than you remember experiencing them before hearing loss. That’s okay! Celebrate the improvements to your hearing, even if it’s not exactly the same as before.
- Don’t adjust the volume too much.
Hearing aid technology has advanced. Quality hearing aids adjust to different listening environments, so you shouldn’t need to manually adjust your hearing aids much. When wearing hearing aids for the first time, it may be tempting to turn down the volume when you are going into a loud restaurant or turn it up when walking into a library.
You also may want to try to hear faint sounds from far away or hear in a way that normal ears can’t. By doing this, though, you are not only interfering with the hearing aid adjustment process, but you are also running the risk of further damaging your hearing.
- Take advantage of telecoil technology.
Hearing aids now have the ability to wirelessly connect with other electronic devices with what is called “telecoil technology” or “telecoil mode.” Hearing aids with this capability can be linked to cell phones, computers, microphones, audio systems, and other compatible electronics so that the sounds being emitted (like the voices on a cell phone) can be sent directly to your hearing aid, further improving the clarity with which you hear these devices.
- Be patient.
When it comes to offering helpful tips for first time hearing aid users, we cannot stress this enough: the new hearing aid adjustment process takes time. You need to be patient with yourself and your hearing aids. And with time, you should grow accustomed to hearing again.
If you are considering hearing aids, we hope you will give Purchase Ear Technology a call at (270) 558-3996 or stop by our office located at 2008 Broadway St in Paducah or CLICK HERE to contact us.