Research from a MarketTrak study published in 2009 shows that the average wait for people to get hearing aids from the time when they first notice a hearing loss is 7 years. During that time, as their hearing decreases, they suffer the effects of unaided hearing loss, one of which is auditory deprivation. Our ears aren’t so different from the muscles in our body. When hearing loss is untreated, the nerves are deprived of stimulation and slowly become weakened. Easily said, if you notice a hearing loss at 65 but do nothing for 10 years, your 75 year old self will pay the price with a more difficult hearing loss to correct and a harder time adjusting to the correction.
While hearing aids are becoming more natural sounding all of the time, the reality is that once a hearing loss sets in, you are not going to hear as well as you did when you were young. However, with the right hearing aids, a knowledgeable, well-trained professional and some work on your part, hearing can become a natural, enjoyable part of your life again.
Below is some good advice for first-time users of hearing aids
- Hearing aids are not like glasses. With glasses, you notice a difference right away. With hearing aids, there is as much retraining for your brain as there is for your ears. Be patient.
- Be committed. Even if you are irritated by the new sounds you are hearing, keep trying. You haven’t heard the refrigerator running for years– initially sounds like that may bother you, but if you give it time, your brain will adjust and you won’t notice it anymore. However, if you are “hit-and-miss” with your hearing aid use, your brain may not adjust as well to the constant sounds around all of us.
- Work closely with your audiologist to fine-tune the devices for your needs and preferences. Just because two people have the same hearing loss does not mean that they need exactly the same programming of their devices. Discuss with your audiologist where you would like to hear better. Realize that it may take up to 6 weeks to “tweak” things just right.
- Understand that treating hearing loss is a psychological as well as physiological process. Many people benefit from listening therapy such as LACE to retrain their brains to listen and understand.
- Set measurable, achievable goals for hearing better. Before you start the process, figure out the three situations in which you most want to hear better (church, car, family, restaurants, work, etc.) Work on hearing better in those situations first and let your audiologist know what they are. Take note once you have the hearing aids of how you do in those situations and communicate the results to your audiologist.
- Talk to other people who suffer from hearing problems and who use hearing aids. They will most likely have a lot of experience for you to draw on.
We tell our patients often that hearing better is a process, not a switch that you flip. With the right technology, the right provider and some patience and commitment on your part, hearing better can be a reality. If you have questions or would like to schedule an evaluation with one of our award-winning audiologists, give us a call at 801-770-0801.