Hearing aids can allow for being more independent and hearing everyday sounds, including phone calls, conversations, and doorbells. They can also improve self-esteem and reduce the impact hearing loss may have on your social life. However, whether prescription or over-the-counter, hearing aids take some time to get used to. Your brain might require weeks or months to adapt to the new way of recognizing sounds. Here are five tips to help you get used to your new hearing aids.
1. Focus on one-on-one conversation first
You will be setting yourself up for disappointment if you use your new hearing aids in a noisy setting on the first day. You should sit in a quiet room the first time you wear your hearing aids. Starting with one-on-one conversation and avoiding loud noises with hearing aids will make the transition easier, and you will get more practice. When you feel more comfortable, wear your hearing aids outdoors and practice keeping them on all day.
2. Take regular breaks
It’s good to start by slowly increasing the time you spend with your hearing aids until you begin to feel more comfortable. This is especially true if you are struggling to adjust to your new hearing aids. Gradually build up the number of hours you wear them per day and the circumstances in which you wear them. For instance, you may begin by wearing a single hearing aid for a few hours while at home and then increase to wearing two at the same time.
3. Expect some frustration
If you haven’t heard properly for several years, hearing aids can flood your ears with sounds you didn’t notice before, which may be overloading. For instance, the humming of a fridge might seem loud and unbearable. This is usually because your brain has forgotten to separate background noise and prioritize particular sounds over others. You have to relearn how to ignore the background noise and, most importantly, train patience and take it slow as your brain adjusts.
4. Turn on closed-captioning or subtitles when watching TV
Visual cues help the brain process the sounds it’s receiving, and that’s why it helps to speak to an individual face-to-face rather than when they are turned away from you. The same idea can apply to when you are watching TV. Put on your hearing aids and turn on your TV to watch your favorite movie or program. As you read along and hear the character speak, you will make that connection between what you hear and what you see.
5. Schedule regular follow-up visits with your audiologist
Regular follow-up visits to your audiologist allow them to fine-tune your device and chat with you about any problems or concerns you might be having. They can also help you decide on the ideal volume and sound quality along with other basics, like how to turn your devices on and off, and cleaning and maintenance tips. These appointments can be either face-to-face or over the phone, and they allow you to discuss how you have been getting on.
It takes a lot of work to get used to hearing aids, and it’s normal to feel uncomfortable when you first start to wear these devices. While everyone is usually different, implementing these tips can help you enjoy having your hearing aids and ensure you keep using them as they continue to improve your life.