Many people with hearing loss report an increase in their overall quality of life when they first start wearing hearing aids. That's because good hearing can enable so much of what makes life great. Hearing aids can help you to experience more profound interactions with loved ones, and you may find it much more enjoyable to participate in social events.
You may have found noise and crowds overwhelming when living with an untreated hearing loss. But with hearing aids, you can look forward to engaging in meaningful conversations with friends and family more easily and with less fatigue, regardless of the setting. Wouldn't it be nice to get excited about a social gathering, rather than worrying about whether or not you will be able to follow a conversation?
'Does the world really sound like this?' is a common thought.
Not all change is seamless, however. It can take a while to get used to wearing hearing aids, and you may experience some sensory overload. 'Does the world really sound like this?' is a common thought. It does – and you will soon get used to, and hopefully appreciate, all the sounds the world has to offer.
We have compiled three top tips to help you get a gentle start to life with hearing aids.
1. Use them consistently
It is important that you wear them for most of the day. The true benefits of hearing aids are only achieved through frequent use, even if they feel slightly uncomfortable at first. As you are easing into your new routine, you may also forget to put them on altogether; if this is the case for you, you could leave yourself a note on your bedside table or put a reminder on your phone.
Wear them around your home and in everyday situations. You’ll notice there are sounds in your home that you may not have heard in a while – running taps, creaking stairs, the clanking of cutlery. These may surprise you at first but will quickly become a natural part of your life.
You can also turn on the TV and watch your favourite show and go to the supermarket – in general, live your life as you normally would.
2. Speak to people
Talking with other people, both face-to-face and on the phone, is a rewarding experience for most new hearing aid users. All of a sudden, speech is clear and focused, and you are able to follow and participate in conversations on a different level compared with what you may have been used to.
If your hearing loss is severe, you might have avoided talking on the phone for a while. Face-to-face conversations may be more comfortable as you are able to read the other person’s gestures and body language. Speaking on the phone is slightly different, but once again it is an endeavour that is both rewarding and important for building and improving social connections – and with hearing aids, it can be much easier for you.
3. Write down your experiences
Keeping a diary of your initial experiences with hearing aids can help you gather your thoughts and keep track of all those new impressions. It also serves as a great tool for when you next visit your hearing care professional.
Note down the sounds that are new to you and what your reaction to them has been. Which unfamiliar sounds have you noticed? Are any particular sounds or situations unpleasant? What physical sensations do you feel when wearing your hearing aids – do they feel comfortable?
These themes can help you with your experience of your hearing aids going forward. And, if adjustments are needed, your hearing care professional will benefit from the information contained in your diary.
Bonus tip: It’s okay to take them off
One last thing: If wearing your hearing aids gets a little too intense or you feel overwhelmed, it’s okay to take them off when you need a break from sound. With persistent use, your brain is able to adjust to sound quite remarkably. In the meantime, don’t feel any pressure if you are uncomfortable in certain situations at first – simply take them out and put them back in again when you are ready.
Your follow-up appointment
Your hearing care professional will likely ask you to come back for a follow-up appointment. This is where you will have your hearing aids fine-tuned based on your experiences so far.
Use this opportunity to ask any questions you may have and share any issues you may have faced. It can be helpful to bring your diary – and also a close relative or friend – to your appointments; they may have noticed something important about your hearing too.