Adjusting to new hearing aids takes patience and practice, but it’s worth the effort. With time, hearing aids will feel as natural as wearing glasses, and greatly improve your quality of life. These tips should help you make the most of your first few weeks and help you progress to the next stage as a hearing aid wearer.
Start off slowly by wearing your hearing aids at home for a few hours each day, where the noises are familiar and quiet. At first, you might feel bombarded with sound, and certain noises may be louder, tinnier or more uncomfortable than you remember. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you can turn the volume down slightly. Try not to play with the sound levels too much, as your brain needs time to adjust to the sounds.
You will also need to get used to the sound of your own voice. Your speech, chewing and swallowing will be amplified, and it can be hard to know how loudly you are talking. Ask your loved ones to tell you when you speak too loudly or quietly, so you can regulate your voice level. Reading aloud to yourself everyday can help you become familiar with the sound of your speaking voice.
During your first conversations with friends and family, turn your face towards them so you have full opportunity to follow what they are saying. Once you are comfortable, try some exercises to strengthen your listening ability. Try to follow a conversation without lip-reading, or close your eyes and practice identifying where sounds are coming from.
Try new environments
When you feel comfortable, try out different sound environments. Wear your hearing aids while having a phone conversation, visiting the supermarket or dining at a restaurant. Get used to wearing them for everything you need to do, and experiment with your hearing aids’ programs to find the best settings for every situation.
Ask your family or friends to set the television and radio volume to a ‘normal’ level, and use it as a constant setting. It may take time to adjust, but with hearing aids you shouldn’t need the volume louder than this. Turning on subtitles and closed captions on the TV can also help you get used to following dialogue.
People with normal hearing naturally concentrate on the sounds they need and ignore background noise, but if you’ve had hearing loss for some time, you will need to re-learn this skill. When you are in a noisy environment, practice shifting your attention from one sound to another. Concentrate on ignoring the background sounds and focus on what you want to hear.
After two weeks, you should aim to wear your hearing aids during all waking hours.
Make notes and persevere
Make notes of what you can and can’t hear, including any sounds you find uncomfortable. Keep going back to the list – you may find that the bothersome sounds are no longer as annoying, which means that your brain has naturally adjusted to them. Take all the notes to your follow-up appointments. The information will help your audiologist make adjustments to your hearing aid.
For most users, it takes between 4-6 weeks to fully adjust to their hearing aids. This can seem like a long time, but the benefits are worth the perseverance. Your audiologist can discuss any concerns you may have, and help you modify, program and fit your hearing aids properly to make sure you are getting the best experience out of them.
If you have any questions about hearing aids, or you’d like to schedule an appointment, we’re happy to help. Give us a call on 0131 220 1220, or simply pop in to one of our centres.
House of Hearing offers hearing care at four centres in Edinburgh, Galashiels, Perth, and St Andrews. Call us on 0131 220 1220 for more information.