If you suffer from hearing loss, the benefits of hearing aids are unmatched. They help you stay healthy, active and more connected as you age. But do your hearing aids frustrate you at times? Perhaps they don’t seem to work correctly or provide the improved hearing experiences you expected. Fortunately, many hearing aid wearers have experienced similar ups and downs. They’ve provided the following tips to help improve the function of your hearing aids.
1. Expect an adjustment period
If you just purchased new hearing aids, you should know they will feel strange at first. There may also be a learning curve for learning to use them. Don’t give up. Once you get past the initial period of “breaking them in,” you will be infinitely glad you stuck with them.
Work with a friend in quiet places to practice using the hearing aid’s features in different locations. Be patient with yourself. Allow your body time to become accustomed to your hearing aids so you get the most out of them.
In time, your hearing aids will feel like your hands or feet. They’ll become like an extension of your body.
2. Don’t be a hero
You’ve got very powerful technology in your ears. It may be tempting to experiment with the settings in an attempt to develop superhero hearing. You may want to find out what they’re whispering across the room. You think it’s interesting to hear what a bumblebee sounds like with the volume cranked up.
Yes, you can sometimes hear things you shouldn’t by experimenting with your hearing aids, but this can diminish your hearing aid’s ability to adjust to sounds and may even cause further hearing damage.
We won’t even get into the hurt feelings you’ll cause when friends and family members discover you’re spying on them. Only use hearing aids within their normal range to keep them functioning properly.
3. Let the hearing aids do their job
Most modern hearing aids learn from your environment. As they do, they improve how well you hear in various locations. Constantly fiddling with the volume on devices that utilize artificial intelligence makes it more difficult for them to optimize your listening experiences.
Let your hearing aids do the work. Give it some time. If adjustments are needed, you should make them very gradually.
4. Become an active listener
Your hearing aids will make hearing easier, but listening is a skill most individuals need to work on.
In order to hear and remember, it’s important to give your full attention to the speaker. Just like natural hearing, this will ensure background noise stays in the background.
If you waited to get hearing aids, you may have forgotten how to listen effectively. You may have to re-establish some cognitive connections that have weakened over time.
Face those who are speaking to you. Watch their eyes and mouths as they speak. Pay attention to intonation and body language. These details add meaning to what they are saying.
5. Retrain your language center
As an individual who has developed hearing loss, you may have lost some of your ability to process spoken language before you began wearing hearing aids.
This makes heard language more confusing than reading a written statement. You may understand the words they’re saying, but how the words connect to make coherent thoughts escapes you.
You understand more fully when you read because your reading ability is still connected to your brain’s language center. Your hearing became disconnected from your brain as your hearing loss progressed.
Retrain your brain’s language center by working with a trusted friend in a familiar environment. Turn the captions on when you watch TV to practice while you’re alone. Read a book while simultaneously listening to the audiobook.
Close your eyes for a short time while watching TV. Try to rely completely on what you’re hearing to follow the show’s plot. If it’s too discouraging, work your way up to this exercise.
Each of these ideas helps you reconnect your brain’s wiring so you hear and understand better.
6. Read aloud
As you continue to rewire the language center of your brain, relearn what your voice sounds like. Slowly read a book aloud. Take the time to process what you’re hearing.
Your voice will likely sound strange to you at first. This is because we don’t simply hear our voices with our ears. Sound waves also travel through our jaws and the back of our heads.
7. Give yourself ample time
On average, it takes two weeks to a month to fully adjust to wearing hearing aids. If you’ve been wearing them for a longer period of time, but you’re inconsistent with these tips, it will take additional time.
The worst thing you can do is give up, thinking that the situation won’t improve. Once you’ve lost your hearing, it takes time to get back up to speed.
Be patient. Get an accountability buddy who will encourage you, and in time, you’ll discover how great it is to hear clearly again.
If you’re really struggling with your hearing aids, it may be time to speak to a hearing specialist who will work with you to overcome your unique challenges.
Don’t settle for under-performance. Your hearing will be vastly improved by using these tips.