Preparing to use and integrate hearing aids in your daily life is exciting! Hearing aids are such an important investment in your health. Not only do hearing aids transform hearing, but these savvy devices enhance communication which improves all aspects of life: relationships, social engagement, work life, and overall health and wellness.
It is important to know that there is an adjustment period with hearing aids. These instruments are designed to help absorb and process incoming sound. This provides ample support, allowing people to maximize their hearing across all environments. So when transitioning to wearing hearing aids, especially for first-time wearers, you will likely hear sounds that you have not heard in quite some time. It takes time for your brain to refamiliarize itself with these sounds and become comfortable with the range of sounds it can now hear and process more clearly. There are ways that you can adjust to your new hearing aids with greater ease, including the following:
Start at Home
First wearing your hearing aids at home can be a useful way to introduce the device and get acclimated. Being in an environment that you are already familiar with supports you being as comfortable as possible. Hearing the noises in your own space – household appliances, ticking of a clock, sounds outside etc. – is a great way to retrain your auditory system. Starting with quieter sounds and working your way to increased levels of noise is an effective way to get familiar with your hearing aids without feeling overwhelmed.
Retraining your hearing takes energy and effort as you are processing sound in a new way. Your brain is consistently taking in this new sound and assigning meaning which allows you to understand what you hear. Becoming (re)familiar with old sounds can feel strange initially and can feel like cognitive overload. So it is important to take breaks when you feel fatigued or overextended. It is useful to start wearing your hearing aids for a few hours every day and working towards wearing them for a full day.
Practice with Loved Ones
Getting adjusted to communicating with hearing aids can be a little challenging at first. Taking in new sounds in addition to the sound of your own voice can seem really different and unusual initially. Practicing with your family and friends is a really great way to get comfortable with your hearing aids and explore different strategies that support your hearing. Having conversations with multiple people and in different settings helps your auditory system get used to a range of sounds. Your brain is also able to make connections between different voices speaking against background noise. You may experience challenges and difficulty as you are adjusting so going through this with loved ones, where there is greater understanding and support, can be really helpful!
Engage in Listening Exercises
There are simple listening exercises that you can practice to help you adjust to your new hearing aids. This includes applying closed captions as you watch television or movies which allows you to read the text as you hear the speech. This helps your brain make quick connections between sound and language, which helps with the retraining of the auditory system. Another way to do this is to listen to an audiobook as you also read the text or read the text aloud to yourself. This strategy also allows you to get more familiar and comfortable with your own voice.
It is important to remember that it takes time to adjust to new hearing aids. You may feel overwhelmed or tired initially and this is normal! In moments of frustration, rather than feeling discouraged try to practice greater flexibility with yourself. Be sure to be patient with yourself and your hearing as it is learning new ways of processing sound.
Adjusting to hearing aids takes a little bit of time but soon, your hearing will drastically improve! Integrating these tips into daily life as you get acclimated to your new device can help ease this transition. Soon enough, you will be moving through spaces and conversations much more comfortably, confidently, and with greater energy!