If you’re struggling to understand what people say, turning up the volume on the TV or avoiding certain restaurants because they’re too loud, you might find that you need hearing aids. But hearing aids aren’t like glasses — you don’t just pop them in and adjust to your new way of hearing right away. The transition takes time, but you can take steps to make it go more smoothly. Treasure Scheib, an audiologist with Banner Health in Tucson, AZ, shared her advice for adjusting to new hearing aids.
Why it can be tricky to get used to hearing aids
Adjusting to anything new in your life can be a challenge, and that’s especially true with hearing aids. For one, it’s a change to your routine. You need to learn how to insert them in your ears properly, remember to change or charge the batteries, and possibly install and understand new accessories or apps.
Plus, you have to adjust to a new way of hearing. “When a hearing aid is first fit, it is an instant change. For most people, hearing loss is a gradual change, so initially, the sound might be harsh, tinny or too loud,” Dr. Scheib said.
How can you learn to wear hearing aids correctly?
Patience is the most important part of learning how to hear with your aids. “Getting new hearing aids is a process, not a single event. It’s different for everyone, so take it one day at a time. Each day it will become easier, and gradually using them will become normal,” Dr. Scheib said.
These tips can help:
- Wear them as much as possible. For most people, the first instinct is to remove the hearing aids, but using them consistently is the goal. “In the beginning, it is perfectly fine to take breaks, but ultimately the goal is to wear hearing aids all day, every day,” Dr. Scheib said.
- Practice putting them in. The process can feel awkward at first. “Once you have done it a few times, it becomes easier,” Dr. Scheib said. You may need more practice if you have any dexterity issues—your audiologist can give you individualized tips on how to insert your hearing aids more easily. When you wear your hearing aids every day, the process becomes part of your daily routine.
- Prepare to hear unfamiliar sounds. You should expect to notice things you haven’t heard in a long time since it’s difficult to know what you weren’t hearing. “You might be surprised by environmental sounds you don’t want to hear,” Dr. Scheib said.
Hearing-aid technology can help
While you can adjust things like volume, programs and settings on hearing aids, most modern devices have set-it-and-forget-it options. “Current hearing aid technology requires little to no self-adjustments for volume or other settings,” Dr. Scheib said. You’ll have the opportunity to make adjustments, but you’ll probably find you don’t need to.
You shouldn’t need to adjust your hearing aids for different listening environments, either. In the past, you might have had to change your settings based on whether you were in a noisy or quiet environment, and whether the sound was coming from in front of you or from different directions. “Today’s technology automatically adjusts to optimize understanding in all listening environments,” Dr. Scheib said. If you want to, you can adjust your hearing aids with an app, remote control or buttons on the aid. But most people prefer the automatic settings.
Your partner or family can support you
You can bring family members with you to your hearing aid fitting and adjustment appointments. That way, they can learn firsthand how to help you.
You can also explain that your hearing aids improve your hearing, but they don’t give you perfect hearing. “Family and friends often think you should hear everything now that you have hearing aids, and that is simply not the case,” Dr. Scheib said. You can share communications strategies that can help, such as:
- Talking face-to-face in close range rather than from a distance
- Reducing background noise
- Talking at a normal volume — they may be accustomed to speaking loudly with you
- Speaking slowly
The bottom line
Adjusting to new hearing aids is a process that takes patience, persistence and practice. But the benefits are worth it as hearing well can help you enjoy so many of life’s activities.
Need help with your hearing aids?
Schedule an appointment with an audiology specialist.