Readjusting to hearing can take a lot of practice. It’s the one thing about hearing aids that is constantly misunderstood. Most people we see in our clinics have been suffering hearing loss for years before they come in for treatment. Often, this means they haven’t realized the changes they’ve made to their lifestyle to accommodate the loss, things like avoiding social situations, isolating themselves and relying on family members for help with simple tasks. Often relationships have suffered and some form of depression has taken hold. Luckily all these things can be reversed, but the process isn’t instantaneous.
We all get rusty at things we haven’t done in a long time, and the same is true for hearing well. Often, because when people suffer hearing loss they can’t hear what their loved ones are saying, they stop actively listening. The process of actively listening, looking for visual clues (since 20% of language is visual, not auditory) about the speakers’ feelings as well as paying attention to the sound, just adds confusion and frustration for the person with hearing loss. Now that hearing is being restored, it becomes important to remember to retrain the ability to listen well and how to look for those clues.
It can also be strange to hear sounds that were forgotten about. Things like plates clattering as they are put away, birds chirping outside a window, or the shuffle of slippered feet on the floor in the morning. All of these things may, at first, be distracting. Because so many people can feel this way, we want our clients to remember to be patient with themselves and develop the best hearing aid habits they can. We will actively work with you to help ensure your transition back to hearing health.
The road back to hearing health need not be long and complicated, as long as you remember to take gradual steps to increase your ability day by day.
1. Start by using your hearing aids for only a few hours a day in a quiet environment like your own home. Make sure you have fully adjusted to the sounds that are available to you again.
2. Practice having conversations with loved ones – take 20 minutes and sit face to face, no more than seven feet apart. Look for the visual cues to the language, make sure you watch the speaker’s mouth.
3. Read aloud to yourself – the sound of your own voice may have become foreign, but don’t worry, you’ll reacquaint yourself quickly!
4. Take breaks as necessary, but build up the number of hours you’re using your hearing aids and actively listening to people before stepping up to noisier environments like group situations.
5. Keep your follow-up appointments and discuss any concerns with your practitioner.