You have just got new hearing aids? Now what?
You have so many things to remember about using them? Are they going to work? Are my hearing aids going to be a waste of money?
Your fitting appointment hopefully solved many of your concerns.
Congratulations by the way for taking this important step.
Let’s work together to ensure that your journey with hearing aids is enjoyable and meets your expectations.
He had to remember how to put them on, change batteries, there was something about drying, and wax protection and wearing it as much as possible and yes he had to train his brain to hear. So much more than he expected. And there wasn’t time or brain space to cover what would happen.”
Many people ponder these when they first get hearing aids.
They were wondering about what will happen?
Will they be good enough?
You’ve heard the stories about hearing aids?
They don’t always get a good review, but yet so many people would not do without them?
It is possible to benefit from hearing aids no matter your hearing loss.
Before discussing how to improve the benefits you will get from your hearing aids. Let’s talk about 3 rarely discussed, but essential benefits of wearing hearing aids.
1. Your hearing aids must ensure you hear the important sounds of life again.
Your hearing aids will not restore your hearing to normal? After all what is normal? It is a difficult concept to define and the answer varies from person to person.
At your first audiology appointment, you were asked many questions investigating what successful hearing aid use would mean for you.
Use these results to guide you as to what you can and cannot be expected to hear. You may want to discuss them again at your next appointment with your audiologist.
Hearing well with your hearing aids is about hearing all the sounds that are important to you and ignoring those sounds that are not important to you.
Your hearing aids will not amplify just speech. That is impossible. Yet they help you hear speech clearly.
You will also hear those little incidental sounds like birds singing, a car coming down the street or your telephone ringing.
2. Hearing Technology can help you reduce the impact of background noise or even used to help you hear over distance better.
However, reducing background noise requires your hearing aids to work very differently to when you need to hear over distance.
Technology sometimes has trouble working out what you do want for a number of reasons.
Advanced hearing aids are aiming to make it easy in multiple listening situations.
It is amazing how technology today can analyse and sort out speech from noise and then reduce predictable noise. Just sometimes it is hard to differentiate what is noise especially if it is speech like.
3. Using the knowledge that you hear with your brain, you can enhance the benefits you obtain from your hearing aids.
Your brain continues to learn and adapt over time.
In the first week you will find the world seems noisy. You will be hearing not only the softer sound of speech you have been missing for many years but also other sounds like paper shuffling, clicking of heels on the floor, water running and maybe even your microwave.
Your brain is your friend in helping you learn to identify the important from unimportant sounds.
You will find some time in the next few weeks that sounds that grabbed your attention the first few days will be less distracting.
Sounds will become comfortable and you will be ready to start the next part of the journey.
Learning to improve your communication skills to hear more.
To help you on your journey to hearing the best you can, I have created this guide.
Just go through each of these 11 steps and explore how you could apply these ideas in your life.
1. Hearing aids are only the beginning of learning to hear better. They are the foundation stone of successful hearing.
The next level of improvement will come from the changes you and the people speaking to you make.
Does it mean the hearing aids are not working?
Let’s look at what is happening!
Joan is speaking clearly and loudly for her friend to hear. She wants to ensure her friend hears and understands her.
Yet when she gets off the phone and starts chatting to Michael she drops her voice volume and speaks faster.
Michael is also on the other side of the room and the TV is turned on.
This is a common situation repeated in so many households.
And when we stop and think about it, it makes sense why Michael is not hearing as he expected.
We tend to communicate less effectively with those we spend the most time with. It takes two to Tango link
2. There is no point saving your hearing aids for special occasions.
Special occasions are almost always noisy.
If you don’t get used to wearing your hearing aids in quiet, you will not be able to wear them comfortably in noisy environments.
It is possible to hear better in many noisy environments if you apply this one principle.
3. Put your hearing aids on first thing in the morning and leave them in until you go to bed.
It takes time to adjust to hearing the world and to get the full potential from hearing better.
It just doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen.
You need to wear your hearing aids regularly and on a consistent basis.
Wear them even when you think you may not need them. This is usually when it is quiet, at home and there may be no one else around you.
If you only wear them occasionally, your brain will never get used to using the sounds you are now hearing.
Your brain will have to keep on relearning how to hear each time you put the hearing aids on.
4. Expect some sounds to be strange initially, including your own voice, footsteps, birds and paper.
You haven’t heard or been aware of these sounds for some time.
Give yourself time to discover and explore these sounds.
Try to identify the sounds you are hearing with the hearing aids.
Practice shifting your attention from one sound to another.
5. Hearing in quiet and mild to moderate background noise should be improved. However, hearing in noise will not be as good as hearing in quiet.
Even people with normal hearing do not always hear in noisy situations.
6. With your hearing aids on, soft speech should be audible, conversational speech comfortable and loud speech not uncomfortable.
Keep note of different listening situations and ask yourself, if this is a soft sound, a conversational speech level sound or loud speech.
All sounds heard with your hearing aid should never be uncomfortably loud. If they are, you need to discuss this with your audiologist as soon as possible.
7. No whistling should occur if the hearing aids are in properly
If your hearing aids are not in properly they can fall out and you will lose them.
Or you will not be getting the desired benefit and not hearing well.
8. Your own voice may sound different when you are wearing hearing aids.
At first, your voice is likely to sound different because it is amplified by your hearing aids.
You haven’t heard your voice for a long time without hearing aids.
Your voice is one of the closest things to the microphones of your hearing aids, hence the first sound amplified.
Remember your hearing aids are not working if you are not hearing your voice differently.
To speed up getting used to the sound of your voice, do some reading or talking out loud for a few minutes a few times a day.
9. Talking on the phone may feel awkward or different at first.
You will need to experiment with proper phone placement and/or use different technology with the phone.
Being able to use the phone is important.
10. It is essential that you return to your audiologist for follow-up visits and fine-tuning adjustments to the hearing aids.
Few people get hearing aids and put them on and do not need adjustments.
There are so many ways to improve your hearing.
11. Explore different listening situations starting from easy (one on one conversations in quiet) and slowly over the first few days or even weeks go into more and more difficult listening situations.
This will help your brain adjust to hearing again.
Remember, successful use of hearing aids begins with your new hearing aids.
The next steps in hearing better involve you and those you speak with.
Explore the 11 Must-Know in this guide and let me know if you have any questions.
These concepts are not about how to put on your hearing aids, or how to change the batteries.
They cover those aspects of hearing aid use we don’t always talk about.
Share with those around you and help them understand or demystify what helps you.
It’s about changing expectations of what hearing aids do and ensuring you are a successful user of hearing aids. An added bonus of understanding these expectations – you will hear better where and when it matters to you.
If you have any more ideas on what would make a difference when you first get hearing aids, please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on Hearing Care Professionals Facebook page.
Look forward to hearing from you.
Nolene Nielson is an experienced Australian Audiologist who is passionate about hearing. This article was first published at hearingcareprofessionals.com.au.