First, congratulations on taking the big step toward better hearing! Sometimes, the let-down after being fit with new hearing aids can be as frustrating as the hearing loss. Many people are still bothered by other noises and environmental sounds they aren’t used to hearing. This is a perfectly normal initial reaction!
Imagine if your leg was immobilized for 7 years (about the length of time it takes a person to decide to get hearing aids). If you were suddenly able to use your leg after all that time, chances are that you would be a little wobbly at first! This is no less true for using your ears for the first time in what might be years. You see, we listen with our brains and the brain needs to remember how to hear and what to do with all of the ‘new’ sounds.
So, what are some realistic expectations? First, the goal of amplification is to ease communication, not to make it easy. You can expect to continue to miss a sound or a word but the overall meaning of what you are listening to should be clear. You should be able to hear most soft sounds without being disturbed by loud sounds. The hearing instruments should fit well, stay in your ears properly, and be very comfortable. If your hearing loss is only in a certain range, like the high-pitches, the hearing aids won’t necessarily make speech louder, they will simply add clarity to what you are already hearing.
Here is a list of helpful hints to make the first 6 weeks after the fitting as seamless as possible:
Remind your friends and family that they still need to look at you when they speak and to avoid trying to talk to you as they are walking away or from another room. Hearing aid microphones are effective at relatively short distances and no one has invented a microphone that can pick up speech through walls!
Stay tuned in to the speaker’s face. You might not realize what a great lip reader you really are. Don’t waste those skills!
Good hearing aids come equipped with powerful noise reduction technologies but they still don’t know who you are listening to. If you are in a restaurant or around many other people, be sure to face the person you are listening to. The hearing aids will assume that the voice in front of you is the voice that you’re interested in.
Consider staying out of very loud or boisterous environments for the first few days. Give yourself time to adjust.
Practice listening…recorded books, podcasts and audio articles are excellent ear exercises. Ask a friend or spouse to read to you from the newspaper or a magazine. The more informative and less familiar the subject matter the harder (and more helpful) the exercise will be.
And, finally, keep a diary. Your audiologist will be thrilled that you are engaged in the fitting process and the diary will make it a lot easier to provide concrete examples of times when you aren’t hearing as well as you feel you should be.
Happy listening and Stay Vibrant!