You Were Just Fit With New Hearing Aids! Make the Most of Them – NOW!
Monday, January 18, 2010
Every day, hearing professionals fit people with new hearing aids, and the journey to better hearing begins. For some people, the adjustment process goes as smoothly as possible, for others there can be several challenges. I’d like to share some valuable advice and pointers to make this initial adjustment period as helpful as possible since a number of people (especially you – the wearer) are putting time, money, and effort into this endeavor.
For starters, it is critical to have realistic expectations. It goes without saying, but if anyone expects hearing aids to restore their hearing to “normal,” this will not be a good experience. Hearing loss not only affects our ability to hear sound and speech, but it also affects our ability to communicate, listen, and think about what we’ve heard. And since most people wait several years before using hearing aids, the entire hearing and listening pathway gets used to not “hearing” and thus only processes partial information. Hearing aids can’t “fix” everything.
To paraphrase what I said earlier, if you expect your hearing aids to work perfectly “out of the box,” you’ll be sorely disappointed. It is critical to have patience and communicate closely with your hearing professional so that proper coaching and computer fine-tuning is maximized completely. Your entire hearing pathway needs time to re-learn and recognize critical listening skills and sounds. The rustle of a newspaper, listening in a restaurant, outdoor noises, running water, children’s voices, the sound of a telephone, driving a car, and typing on a keyboard are just a few of thousands of sounds of which people lose track over the years that will sound differently through hearing aids.
So what can be done to get the best outcome with your new hearing aids?
- Be patient!! Remember the discussion above.
- See the local hearing professional regularly during the trial period and communicate all your positive and negative experiences. They can only address your concerns if you tell them everything.
- Keep your expectations realistic about what hearing aids can and cannot do.
- If initially wearing your hearing aids is too overwhelming in difficult noisy environments, consider introducing these situations gradually at first.
- Keep a journal of your experiences and share it with the hearing professional. This will help both of you work towards a more successful outcome.
- While about 85% of people keep and benefit from the original hearing aids selected, it is not uncommon for some people to exchange to another brand and model if the first set doesn’t provide the expected results. The trial period is when we all learn how you’ll react with hearing aids, so don’t become frustrated if you don’t progress as you’d like.
Remember, it takes 3 things to work together to make a successful hearing aid fitting – the professional, the hearing aids, and you – the wearer. Each part plays a critical role, and if done properly, there will be a successful outcome!