For many people with hearing loss, hearing aids can be a life changer. Instead of having to strain to follow a conversation in a busy restaurant or having to constantly raise the volume of the TV, hearing aids allow people with hearing loss to listen to the world at just the right volume.
While hearing aids are an important tool to maintain one’s quality of life despite hearing loss, many people don’t rush to their hearing healthcare professional as soon as they notice that their hearing isn’t as good as it used to be. Rather, many people end up waiting quite a while before they take action to treat their hearing loss.
Many people with hearing loss avoid getting help from a medical professional for a whole variety of reasons, but most commonly because they are in denial about their hearing loss. Although it is certainly recommended to seek out professional hearing healthcare as soon as possible, many people don’t even realize how much hearing they’ve actually lost.
This is because hearing loss often gets progressively worse over time. Thus, it can be difficult for someone to recognize how much their hearing abilities have changed. Small adaptations here and there, like turning up the TV or asking people to repeat themselves often help people with hearing loss get by, but they are certainly no way to live a high-quality life. The best decision that someone with hearing loss can make is to see a hearing healthcare professional, but that’s only the first step.
Once someone does seek out help from a hearing healthcare provider, treatment can begin. Although a hearing healthcare professional will be able to recommend best treatment options for every individual, many people with hearing loss eventually start to wear hearing aids, which can help them engage with the world just like they did before hearing loss.
Training Yourself For Hearing Aids
Hearing aids might be life-changing little devices, but it’s important to remember that it takes time for our brains to adjust to this new way of hearing. Just like it takes time for our bodies to get back into a workout routine after an injury, our brains need time to relearn how to hear.
While hearing loss may not completely take away one’s ability to hear, it does significantly reduce the amount of information that one’s brain receives. This means that one’s brain has likely started to focus more on the sounds that it can hear and may have stopped using or reallocated neural pathways responsible for other sounds it can’t hear to other tasks. When one uses hearing aids, those missing sounds return and the brain needs to be retrained to be able to properly understand and use those sounds.
One of the best ways to retrain a brain after hearing loss is to do listening activities. These activities will likely be recommended by a hearing healthcare provider to most people who are new to hearing aids. Just like a physical therapist might recommend shoulder exercises after a rotator cuff injury, doing listening exercises is important for regaining maximum hearing ability with new hearing aids.
Although your hearing healthcare professional will recommend specific activities, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Hearing aids only work when you wear them. Most hearing professionals will tell new hearing aid users that they ought to wear their devices whenever they are awake. Although many people will try to only wear their hearing aids when they think they need them, it’s often best to keep them on throughout one’s waking hours so that one’s brain can adjust to the wide variety of sounds in our daily lives.
- Hearing exercises take dedication and time. There are a wide variety of different exercises available for people with hearing aids, but the number one most important thing is that a new hearing aid user does the exercises they’re prescribed. The activities don’t do any good if they’re never done.
If you’re a new hearing aid user, you’ve already taken the first step toward better hearing health by seeing your hearing healthcare professional. Getting the most out of your hearing aids takes time, however, so it’s important that you dedicate yourself to retraining your brain to hear all of the sounds in the wonderful world around you by wearing your hearing aids and doing the appropriate exercises.