To those with unrestricted hearing, the tweet of a bird or the sound of waves crashing might be taken for granted. For people who live with any form of hearing loss, being able to hear those simple sounds can be awe inspiring.
While the thought of wearing hearing aids for the first time can be scary and overwhelming, there are many ways that it can be an unforgettably positive experience. Even with the initial adjustment, learning to work though mechanical feedback issues and adjusting to the many sounds coming at you all at once, there are so many enjoyable results just waiting for you.
After the initial diagnosis, you’ll probably talk through options with your audiologist. With technology today, there are lots of nifty things available in the world of assistive hearing devices. There are many doctors and researchers working every day toward evening the odds for those who live with hearing loss.
For people with a partial hearing loss or those who have had a gradual decline over time, you’re likely aware of the things you no longer notice, or the things that are difficult to hear. Maybe communication with those around you has begun suffering because you can’t hear your coworkers or spouse clearly. Phone conversations could be becoming more difficult. Even enjoying dinner out with friends in a busy restaurant or watching TV could feel like an exercise in futility.
The point when frustrations run high and you wonder why you even bother trying could be your present situation or it could be a ways off, but if you had the chance to regain your lost hearing, wouldn’t you choose to give it a shot? Don’t let fear stand in the way of improving your quality of living. By giving assistive hearing devices a chance, you could get back to the old you, or even to a new and improved you.
Today’s devices can help a listener identify the direction sounds are coming from, such as someone speaking from behind you. They can suppress ambient sounds as well as highlight a particular speaker, especially in busy or loud environments.
Modern digital hearing devices can also amplify sounds at a higher frequency, such as consonants, which are more difficult to hear. This is also helpful for those who are having trouble discerning sounds such as voices of women or children. You can even link your hearing devices to things like phones, TV’s, a home alarm system, or even gaming consoles.
If it’s your first-time wearing hearing aids, here are some tips to help you adapt.
- Always begin your day by wearing your hearing aids. The longer you wear them throughout the day, the higher your success rate with this experience will be. If you feel exhausted or overwhelmed, give yourself a break, but don’t give up. Try again in a little while.
- If you have a pair of hearing aids, be sure to wear them both at the same time to help sounds translate in a manner that your brain can learn to register.
- Keep a journal of your thoughts and experiences while wearing your devices, and even when not wearing them. Refer to these when you visit your audiologist so they can assist you in making adjustments.
- Be sure to put yourself into different listening situations such as noisy environments, both large and small rooms, and outdoors, so you can evaluate what is working and what isn’t and let your audiologist know your positive and negative thoughts on them.
- Don’t give in to the urge to take your hearing aids out while home alone. Keep them in when you’re watching TV, sitting on the porch, or even doing housework.
- Read out loud to yourself or others. This will help you adjust to an appropriate speaking volume when you’re with others.
- Be sure to remove them before showering or swimming.
- Remember to change the batteries or charge them if possible and know how to tell when its needed. Be sure you cover these details with your doctor before leaving their office with your hearing aids.
- Be kind to yourself. This is a new and different experience and it can take time to adapt. Your transition to comfortably wearing hearing aids can take anywhere from a couple days to several weeks, but remember your brain and your body are making adjustments and getting used to a new process every time you put them in. Each new situation is another experience for you to learn and hear what is going on in the world around you.
By exploring the options available, you could open the door to a brighter future, like these individuals did.
Andrew says this about his first few days with hearing aids: ‘I noticed more sounds and from further away. It felt like a film sound editor had gone overboard in adding sound effects- wind through leaves, birds singing, distant traffic rumble, jingling keys and distant conversation. However, despite this increase in background noises, I was far better able to distinguish speech of those close to me. I ate a meal with friends in a crowded restaurant and found myself, not just having to put some much effort into hearing them, actually contributing to the conversation and asking questions! It was only then that I realized how my adjusting to hearing loss meant I was cutting myself off from those around me.’
Adam Felman, a writer and editor for Medical News Today describes his experiences during the first two days of hearing aid use like this: ‘My balance and spatial awareness have also greatly improved in these first few days of wearing my hearing aids. My hearing no longer feels impaired — that is, until I remove the hearing aids. Those few moments in the day without them, such as going to the gym or grabbing a shower, are now pretty draining by comparison. I’ve realized that however self-conscious you might feel about wearing hearing aids, people only see it as a connection with the world, and this is a huge deal. I see my hearing aids as an opportunity, rather than as debilitating or cumbersome devices.’
Now is the perfect time to consult your audiologist to see what amazing opportunities exist to advance your hearing and improve your quality of life. Don’t wait, make that appointment today and soon you could be enjoying the crashing of waves on the shore, a bird tweeting outside, or the giggle of a loved one.