You’ve just been fitted with hearing aids- now what? First of all, hats off to you for taking action towards improving your hearing health! While hearing aids in and of themselves are wonderful, they are just one part of your hearing journey. There are certainly other factors at play that determine how well you do with your new “ears.”
Adjusting to Your Hearing Aids
First and foremost, you need to wear your hearing aids consistently. When you first get fit with hearing aids, you will likely be surprised by all the new sounds in your environment! For individuals with normal hearing, sounds such as a clock ticking, water running, or footsteps are all normal everyday occurrences. For an individual with hearing loss who may not have heard properly in quite some time, these sounds may sound foreign. Please keep in mind that there is an adjustment period associated with first time hearing aid use. It can take upwards of 3 months for your brain to fully adjust to hearing new sounds and in order to do so, the hearing aids need to worn consistently. Ideally, audiologists recommend that patients wear their hearing aids all day everyday, (except while sleeping, when around very loud noise or when in water of course!). However, sometimes this is not always realistic in the beginning. How quickly you adjust to hearing aids can vary on an individual basis and depends on a variety of factors such as the degree of hearing loss, your age, whether or not you’ve had past hearing aid experience and so on. If you are having a difficult time adjusting, don’t be afraid to take things slow. You may want to begin by wearing your hearing aids for a few hours a day and gradually increasing your daily usage over time. You may also want to start by wearing your hearing aids in quieter environments and eventually progress to more challenging listening environments. Don’t hesitate to give yourself “listening breaks” throughout the day if needed. Regardless of what adaptation method you choose, remember that things will settle down in time. Have patience, wear your hearing aids as much as possible, and give your brain time to adjust – practice makes perfect!
Care and Maintenance
Hearing aids are similar to cars in that they require ongoing maintenance. It’s important that you visit your hearing care professional for regular hearing aid checks and cleanings. It’s also a good idea to ensure you’ve been properly educated on how to clean your hearing aids at home. The cleaning process will vary based on which style of hearing aid you wear so be sure to ask your hearing care professional for the appropriate training and tools required to clean your hearing aids.
Have Realistic Expectations
Please remember that hearing aids are “aids”, just as their name suggests. While they should certainly improve your hearing performance, there may still be some situations that are challenging even with the use of your hearing devices. If you think about it, even normal hearing listeners have difficulty hearing in certain situations, for example in a noisy room with multiple people talking at the one time. Be careful not to rely solely on the hearing aids themselves and be sure to supplement their use with communication strategies and other assistive devices when necessary. Furthermore, share your experiences with your hearing professional so he/she can ensure that you have access to the best possible hearing in those challenging listening environments.
Be sure to check out our blog “Communication Strategies and Going the Extra Mile” for additional information on communication tips!