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How to Adjust to Hearing Aids
Whether you’re wearing hearing aids for the very first time or readjusting to an upgraded pair, congratulations! You have taken an incredibly important step to better enjoying the sounds of life, and possibly improved relationships and better work productivity! While hearing aids bring a plethora of benefits to one’s life, they can sometimes present with a bit of an adjustment period.
Don’t give up! It won’t take long for you to fully adjust to your new hearing aids and enjoy the many benefits. Until then, following these simple tips and tricks for adjusting to your hearing aids can help to make the adjustment period shorter and easier.
Start Out in Quiet Environments
Especially with clients who are using hearing aids for the very first time, everyday sounds which are actually faint can seem extraordinarily loud at first. This doesn’t mean your hearing aid prescription is off, or you “must not need hearing aids” after all.
The reason these small sounds seem so loud, is that your brain is not used to processing and hearing them. In fact, most people wait an average of about 7-10 years from the time they start to notice changes in their hearing to the time they reach out to an audiologist for help. That’s a really long time to forget about the faintest sounds of life!
Sitting in a quiet room can be very enjoyable with new hearing aids. Close your eyes and try to identify some of the sounds you’ve been missing, such as the ticking of a clock, the pitter patter of your cat playing in the next room, even the hum of electronics in your home.
Wear for Only a Few Hours at First
Because there is a natural adjustment period to the new sounds you’ll hear with hearing devices, it is recommended to only wear your aids for a few hours a day at first. Try your hearing aids first in quieter and more comfortable environments such as while sipping your coffee of on your morning commute.
While you might be excited to show off your new listening skills, skip the noisy environments such as busy restaurants and conference rooms for the first couple of days while you adjust. After no time, you’ll be wearing your hearing aids during all of your waking hours!
Listen to Audiobooks and Read Aloud to Yourself
Listening to audiobooks or watching TV with subtitles is a good way to readjust to hearing with healthy speech recognition. Seeing and reading the words on the screen or in a book as you hear them, is a good way to readjust to speech without actually speaking (although practicing conversations with groups of people you are comfortable is also recommended).
It’s also important to practice reading aloud to yourself with your hearing aids in. Some people feel their own voice sounds a little funny at first. The more you hear your voice, the more normal it will start to sound.
Give your Ears Time to Adjust
Not only are you adjusting to the new sounds you can hear, but also the physical feeling of hearing aids in and around your ear. No matter what style of hearing aid you use, it is perfectly normal for hearing aids to feel pretty strange for the first couple of days. Don’t let this discouraged you. Just as it takes some adjustment for your nose to wear eyeglasses, and adjustment to your finger when wearing a new ring – this feeling will pass. Soon your hearing aid will feel so comfortable and normal you’ll feel awkward when you’re not wearing it!
Set Personal Objective and Plan of Action
It is important to realize that wearing hearing aids is a psychological, physical and emotional process. Make sure you talk to your audiologist often and get all your questions answered. Remember that fittings are an ongoing process. Some sounds may seem too close or too far away and may need to be adjusted at your next fitting.
Knowing that your hearing aids will take some time to get used to, and also knowing that you may need more than one fitting to get the adjustments perfect will help you in being patient with yourself and your hearing aids during the initial adjustment period. While adjusting, it is also helpful to keep your “reason” for reaching out to an audiologist in the back of your mind.
Were you frustrated by always asking people to repeat themselves? Did you feel lost or left out in large group conversations? Did you feel you were missing out on precious moments with your grandchildren because of your hearing? Whatever your reason, we are so proud of you, and so happy you took this exciting step of using hearing aids.