What to expect from new hearing aids
As a long-term hearing aid user myself, I know what it’s like to be in a loop where your hearing deteriorates and then new technology brings you jumping back into the world. Jumping is the right word too, because a step up in audio capability can make your environment sound suddenly very noisy.
The benefits far outweigh short-term challenges, though. And Katie Ogden, Training Manager of ReSound North-West Europe, has offered us her expert advice on what to expect from new hearing aids, together with tips on how to adjust to life wearing them.
What should we expect?
It’s important to be prepared for an adjustment period, because the minute we start wearing our new hearing aids, we are effectively learning how to hear again.
At first, sounds may appear too loud and things can sound different. It might even make us feel really tired, as our brain has to process sounds and stimuli that it hasn’t received for a while. The key is to be patient, because persevering with hearing aids really is life changing.
Adjusting to life with new hearing aids
How can we ease our way into new hearing aids, or even wearing an aid for the first time? Here are some tips.
It’s important to introduce hearing aids slowly and take regular breaks. Otherwise the flood of new sounds can be overwhelming. Just a few hours a day at first is enough. Then the number of hours can be slowly increased as our bodies becomes normalised to their effect.
Starting somewhere quiet
The best way to get ourselves used to new hearing aids is by wearing them in a quiet space in which we feel comfortable. That is often at home among familiar noises. It’s easier then to identify other noises we might not have heard for a while, like pages of a magazine rustling, or even voices of family and friends sounding a little different.
Hearing ourselves speak may seem strange to at first when wearing hearing aids, so it’s important to get used to the sound of our own voice again, and maybe even train ourselves to speak at an appropriate volume. A good way to do this is by reading aloud.
Practising locating sounds
When we’re hearing a number of different sounds for the first time in a while, it can be difficult to work out where they’re coming from.
A good way to do this is by sitting somewhere busy like a park bench or on a train, and trying to listen to someone’s conversation close by, or a dog barking, to focus on where each specific sound is coming from.
Watching television with subtitles
Listening to the sound of words at the same time as reading them is a good way to train our brains to connect the words to the sounds we are hearing. Subtitles on a television programme can be helpful here.
Moving to more challenging environments
Once we’re used to more familiar sounds, we can start wearing our hearing aids in more challenging environments. This might be work, a busy shopping centre, or pubs and restaurants, to help our ears adjust to different environments and filter out unnecessary background noise.
If you found this article helpful, you might like to read:
- Hearing tests for older people and those with dementia
- Why it’s time to get that hearing aid out of the drawer
- Helping your parent manage hearing loss