For the first time hearing aid wearers, consistency is the key. There are some realistic expectations that you should have regarding first time wearing hearing aids.
Consistently wearing the hearing aid.
On average, it takes a person about seven years for them to have their first audiology visit. Therefore, for most people by the time that they received hearing aids, it is nearly a decade later. A decade is a long time, and someone who has been living with hearing loss for nearly a decade has been missing a lot of sounds for a long period of time.
By living with hearing loss for a long period of time, first time wearers would think that their hearing aids are too loud, or they hear too much, and they feel overwhelmed. As one of the results, people would think that their hearing aids are not working. With the help of the hearing aids, it is normal that one would start to hear genuine sounds that they have not heard for a long period of time, and at the beginning it can be overwhelming. To overcome this, consistently wearing hearing aids is the key!
By consistently wearing hearing aids, we are giving back the brain the missing information that it has been missing for many years, and we are allowing the brain to relearn or re-associate different sounds with their corresponding meanings. Over time, you will know what all the sounds around you mean, and you are used to them, eventually you will know what sounds are important to you and what sounds are not, and what’s not important you will learn to zoom them out.
Remember, all the sounds that you have been missing all these years have always been there, it is just because of the hearing loss you have not heard them for many years.
Hearing aid volume adjustment for the first time
One might ask since at the beginning of wearing hearing aids everything might sound too loud, but can I have my audiologist set the volumes of my hearing aids low at first for me to get used to it?
The answer to this question is yes, you can, and in fact, that’s what it should have been done. As an audiologist myself, I rather under-amplify my patients at the beginning for them to get used to wearing the hearing aids first, and then slowly increase the volumes once the patient realizes that their hearing aids are not loud enough, or whenever they are ready for more volumes. By doing so patients would be more likely to perceive more benefits, willing to keep the hearing aids, and ultimately be more successful with hearing aids
Listening environments from inside the house to group gatherings
First time hearing aid wearers should also slowly ease into noisy environments. Remember, hearing aids are not miracle workers, they only can work with what you have left. In other words, the more good hearing that you have, the easier it is for you to get fit with hearing aids. On the other hand, the more hearing loss you have, the more challenges there would be.
As an audiologist, I always recommended my first-time hearing aid wearers during the first week of wearing hearing aids, only wear hearing aids inside their house, when they are watching television, where there are minimal noises. In the second week, if they feel that they are ready, they can wear hearing aids while they are walking around the neighborhood, in their back or front yards, where there are some noises. Once they feel more comfortable regarding the hearing aids, then they can start to wear the hearing aids in small or large group gatherings.
Only wearing hearing aids when you need to communicate with others, or when there are background noises; sudden jump from noise level zero to noise level ten and expect to hear well and not feel overwhelmed is impossible.
Helping the brain adapt to new hearing aids
There is a learning curve for the brain to wearing hearing aids. Just like learning anything else in life, there is also a learning curve to wearing hearing aids, so don’t give up and don’t get stressed. Practice putting the hearing aids in and out of the ears on top of a countertop.
Place the hearing aids somewhere that’s dry, and somewhere that will remind you in the morning to put the hearing aids in as part of your new morning routines. Realize that multiple visits might be needed to have your hearing aids adjusted to the way that you like, since the audiologist’s office for most of the time is quiet, and meanwhile the real world that we live nowadays is always noisy.
So, if you are still not satisfied with your hearing aids, follow up with your hearing health professionals because most likely there is something that can be done to the hearing aids.