I saw a new patient a couple of weeks ago who needed hearing aids, but was fearful. She has a couple of friends who had hearing aids and her perception of their experiences was pretty negative. One friend didn’t wear the aids at all and was hard to communicate with. The other friend wore hers only occasionally and found them to be “a pain in the butt.”

With every technology, there will be some users who are wildly successful and happy and others who aren’t, and there are many reasons for both. In 15 years of professional service, I have come to understand that the number one reason people don’t like their hearing aids is because there hasn’t been adequate auditory training and follow-up.

Getting hearing aids is not a one-stop shopping experience. It usually takes years to develop a hearing loss and that kind of sensory deprivation cannot be treated in one session. As with anything, practice is the key and the first step is wearing your hearing aids every day. All day. Even when you don’t want to.

The more you wear them, and the more you talk to your audiologist about what you are hearing, the better the world sounds and the more effective your audiologist can be. It really is that simple.

Here are some more tips:

Avoid total silence – Your brain needs something to work with if it is going to learn to integrate all of the new sounds. Play music, listen to books-on-tape, watch television. Keep those ears busy.

Put your audiologist’s number on speed dial or, better yet, get her email address. A good audiologist will be thrilled that you are so engaged in the process and will communicate with you about your hearing as much as you would like.

Go back to the office for your follow-up visits and adjustments. Because everything changes over time, you need to keep up with those changes. Little changes to your hearing aid settings can often make a huge difference.

Good maintenance – take advantage of your audiologist’s “walk-in” hours and let her clean, check, and verify your hearing aids about 3 times per year. This usually only takes about 10 minutes, it can be done while you wait, and emerging problems can usually be identified and solved quickly and at little to no cost.

The reluctant lady? She did decide to treat her hearing loss with hearing aids and she is one happy person! Her favorite part? Visiting with her girlfriends at her exercise classes in the mornings. Cool, huh?