Have you finally acknowledged that your hearing, or lack of it, is becoming more and more of a problem, and have succumbed to being assessed and fitted with a hearing aid? If so, you’ll probably be interested to know that most adults are only fitted between five and seven years after their hearing problems become noticeable, so you’re not alone. Before that, the onset of hearing loss is so gradual that you may not have noticed that your hearing is starting to become impaired, although it’s likely to have been apparent to the people around you.
So now you’ve been fitted with your hearing aid, what should you expect?
First of all, don’t expect perfect hearing as you would expect 20/20 vision if you’ve been fitted with a new pair of spectacles. For a start, most basic hearing aids are not that smart; they’re unable to discriminate between sounds, therefore you may find that some speech is still a little muffled by the background noise. While this is changing, as researchers find ways to develop more discriminatory hearing aids, current hearing aids can’t fully compensate for your hearing loss. However, don’t be downhearted or discouraged, because the majority of hearing-impaired adults find that they function better and are much better off after they are fitted with a hearing aid, than they were when they were trying to cope with their hearing loss unaided.
Tips to help you adjust to your hearing aid
It takes a little time to realize the potential benefits of wearing hearing aids; both your ears and your brain are going to have to adjust to these new sounds and make them into your new ‘normal’. So here’s a few tips to help you through those early days, and if you’d like to know more about how to look after your new aid, click here for some great tips.
- Wear your hearing aid for as many hours as you can, until it becomes uncomfortable. You’re going to be exposed to new sounds that you’ve probably forgotten about, such as the constant noise of the compressor on your refrigerator, or the traffic going past your door.
- You’ll eventually be able to wear it from the time you get up until you retire for the night. However, don’t forget to take it out when you take a shower.
- Take advice from your audiologist about when you should wear it. They may recommend leaving it at home if you’re going to a particular noisy place such as a restaurant, while you’ll definitely need it if you’re meeting with a group of friends. However, ultimately you’ll be the best judge of whether it helps or hinders you in certain situations.
- You may want to choose specific times to use it in the initial days, for example when you watch TV or chat with family or friends. If you’ve been losing your hearing for years, you may have to warn friends and family that they no longer have to shout when talking to you. Once you’re comfortable in these environments, try it out in other places and situations.
- Don’t forget you can turn the volume up if the sound is particularly low, or someone has a very soft voice. Conversely you can turn the volume down if you’re in a very noisy place. While you obviously don’t want to be constantly adjusting it – remember that you’re the one in control.