The main purpose for hearing is communication. We need to be able to hear and understand speech to effectively communicate. As we age, some of us experience a decline in our hearing ability. If left untreated, a hearing loss will eventually affect communication skills. We have identified Five Steps to Better Hearing. When followed, they can improve communication skills.
FIVE STEPS TO BETTER HEARING
- Admit you have a problem. If you have had your hearing tested by an Audiologist and have been told you have a permanent hearing loss and need hearing aids, you can accept or deny it. Denial only hurts yourself. You cannot hide a hearing loss from others. Your symptoms will give away your secret. Your hearing loss is more obvious than a pair of hearing aids. Untreated, a hearing loss can lead to a downward social spiral. You will find yourself no longer participating in activities you once enjoyed. Acknowledge the problem and that others already know you have a hearing problem.
- Decide to proceed with a GOOD ATTITUDE. Your attitude will determine how successful you will be. The hearing instruments alone cannot make you hear better. Listening is a learned behavior. Learning how to listen to speech and tune out background noise will take time and practice. Be patient with getting used to hearing aids while your brain acclimates to ambient sound & noise.
- Educate yourself. Learn all you can about your hearing loss. What type of hearing loss do you have? Learn whether it is a conductive, sensorineural (nerve) or mixed loss. What is the degree of loss in each ear? How has the brain been affected? The hearing loss has probably been gradual. Putting on hearing aids will “startle” your brain with all of the missed sounds. It will need time to adjust. Voices will sound unnatural until you are used to hearing the once-missed consonants (like /s/, /f/, /k/, etc.). Background noises (like fans, appliances, etc.) will be distracting until you learn to tune them out, as normal-hearing individuals do. Understanding speech is a brain function and will take time. It needs to be re-familiarized with sound. This sudden improvement in hearing could cause “auditory confusion”.
- Set realistic expectations. Hearing aids, while advanced in technology, are aids.They cannot replace your original hearing. Set expectations on “better” hearing and understanding – not perfection. Know that the aids are only a substitute for original hearing. However, without them, you would be handicapped. It is not unusual to need to have the hearing aid remade for a better fit. They should never make your ears sore. The electronic adjustments will be made step-by-step over several weeks. As you become more acclimated to your hearing aids the Audiologist will adjust your hearing aids with your input. Your own voice may sound strange at first, but will sound natural in time. Background noise is normal. Normal hearing people hear it too. Background noise can be diminished by using a two microphone system. Ask about this. It’s normal for hearing aids to need repairs from time to time. Ear canals are very humid and contain wax. These things are harmful to electronics. It’s best to see your Audiologist routinely for a check-up
- Practice + Patience = Success! One investment for success is practice. It will cost you time and patience, but will be worth it. You will need to start at a slow pace at home. Build up to wearing your hearing aids all day, every day. Wear them even when you may think you don’t need to be wearing them This will help you adjust quicker. If your hearing aids are not a part of your habit through daily use your brain will not to be able to adjust to the change. Things will always sound funny then. It is OK to stop when you are tired – just commit to not quit. Stay in contact with your Audiologist. New hearing aid users should come back 2 – 3 times during the first 30 days for adjustments, progress checks and assistance. Commit to increasing your hearing aid use by 15 or 30 minutes each day the first week. You will be wearing them all day in no time!
Better hearing will depend on (a) your commitment to make your hearing aids work in your everyday routine, (b) time spent wearing your hearing aids to become comfortable using them in different environments, (c) your patience while your brain adjusts to unfamiliar sounds. Does this sound overwhelming? Call us! We’ll walk you through this process one step at a time. We are committed to helping you hear better.