Want to feel more confident as you adjust to new hearing aids? Here are 4 expert tips
Deciding to take control of hearing loss is a major decision that can positively impact both your ability to communicate and your overall quality of life. Choosing to work with an experienced audiologist to select the right hearing aid for your lifestyle is the first step toward regaining independence and confidence.
“Hearing aids can give a patient the confidence and motivation to stay active and engaged,” said Steven J. Hamlett, Au.D.
Withdrawing from social events is a common sign and side effect of hearing loss, he said, due to decreased confidence in one’s ability to communicate. Hearing is also essential to environmental awareness, so hearing aids can improve our sense of safety and well-being.
“Sounds such as sirens, alarms, rattlesnakes, babies crying and doorbells can all be missed by an individual with untreated hearing loss,” he said. “The world is a noisy place full of sounds that are extremely important to our everyday life.”
Hearing aids allow the world around you to come alive and give you the ability to once again tune in to the relationships that matter to you. But, while you might be excited to immediately have your hearing back, there is a natural adjustment period with new hearing aids.
“Hearing aids are not like reading glasses, where you can put them on and all is well at once,” Hamlett said.
However, Dr. Hamlett has some advice to help you feel more confident with new hearing aids, so your life can return to “normal” as quickly as possible.
Your relationship with your audiologist is just starting when you get your new hearing aids. He or she will be an advocate for your hearing health.
Manage your expectations and understand the process. “No hearing aid fitting will ever be successful if the patient is not emotionally and psychologically ready to start the process of improving his or her hearing,” said Dr. Hamlett. Before you get your hearing aids, share your concerns and fears with your audiologist, who can provide answers and peace of mind.
Regaining your hearing is a process. “Your brain must relearn how to take in sound and make sense of this new way of hearing,” he said. “A successful fitting is much more likely to occur when the patient has realistic expectations about outcomes and a true desire to do what is needed to improve his or her hearing.”
Asking questions and setting goals with the audiologist is very important, both at the initial appointment and throughout the entire process.
Stay in touch with your audiologist, and don’t be afraid to ask for adjustments. Your relationship with your audiologist is just starting when you get your new hearing aids. He or she will be an invaluable resource during the first few months after your fitting.
“The fitting process is unique to every patient, and therefore it may take some time and extra follow-up visits to meet the patient’s needs,” said Dr. Hamlett. “Too often, the patient will give up before issues have a chance to be resolved.”
Hamlett encourages patients to be open and honest, sharing any problems that arise, no matter how small they might seem. This is your experience, and he is there to ensure it is an enjoyable one.
Be patient and don’t skip follow-up appointments. Dr. Hamlett emphasizes that the weeks following your initial fitting are crucial to long-term confidence and success with your new hearing aids. It is common to have several appointments during that time to adjust the hearing aids to your specific needs, so don’t skip any of them. He is there to help each patient move through the adaptation process as their brain adjusts to this new way of hearing.
Take care of your hearing aids — and your hearing. While the newfound freedom and independence your hearing aids provide may make your hearing loss feel like a distant memory, Hamlett stresses the importance of preventative maintenance to ensure continued success.
“Once the hearing aids are set properly and the patient is doing well, most audiologists will continue follow-up care every four to six months,” he said.
Expect to have your hearing retested every year or two, and if anything changes during that time, your audiologist can reprogram your hearing aids as needed. The average life expectancy for a pair of hearing aids is five to seven years, said Dr. Hamlett.
If you or a loved one have noticed increased difficulties in communication and are ready talk about options for improving your hearing, call ENT Audiology Center at 325-437-3617 to set up your comprehensive hearing evaluation.