Adjusting to New Hearing Aids

When you first acquire hearing aids, it’s a big step in the right direction when it comes to your hearing health, but they are not a panacea. It’s essential to manage your expectations in two areas: 

The amount of hearing that is eventually restored.  Your hearing will be much better than before, but unlike eyeglasses that correct your vision, they will not permanently restore your hearing to 100 percent accuracy. 

The length of time it will take to get used to your hearing aids. Again, unlike eyeglasses, your hearing is not restored immediately upon inserting the device. It takes time for your brain to acclimatize to the new sound information you are receiving, and it can be a little overwhelming at first. 

 

New sounds for the brain

When you experience a hearing loss, you focus on the sounds that you can’t hear that you want to hear, such as the conversation happening in front of you. What you don’t realize is that there are many other sounds you are missing out on. 

These sounds come to the forefront when you use hearing aids for the first time. From the wind, the whirr of the microwave, to the sound of pulling a shirt over your ears, a whole world of sounds are restored. It will take a while for your brain to process these sounds, and relegate them to the background again. 

To speed up this process, here are some useful tips.

 

1. Wear your hearing aids regularly

To readjust most successfully, you will need to wear the hearing aids every day. Wearing them helps your brain adapt to a new way of hearing and will gradually make your hearing experience a richer one.

Hearing loss left untreated reshapes how the brain processes sound. To compensate for the missing information, the pathways your mind uses to understand incoming signals are rewritten. That means hearing loss is continually transforming our auditory system away from the standard processing of sound. 

When you introduce hearing aids to your new way of hearing sound, the effect may seem alien and jarring. Luckily, our brains are incredibly adaptive, and most people will adjust to their hearing aids in just a few weeks with regular usage.

 

2. Connect speech to words

A great way to connect speech to meaning is by reading yourself loudly or listening to an audiobook while reading in print along with the text. Reading while listening helps reconnect sound to meaning, and can increase your rate of understanding. Reading to yourself aloud has the bonus of getting familiar with the tone of your voice through hearing aids.

There are other ways to connect speech and sound too. Watch movies and television with subtitles on, and read and listen to the dialogue. Reading while listening creates links in your auditory system, helping your brain reconnect the dots it lost throughout your years of untreated hearing loss. 

 

3. Start small with conversations

While practicing speech recognition alone helps, while using your hearing aids, you will also want to branch out and start talking to your loved ones. 

Start small by having one-on-one discussions in private environments as you first respond to your hearing aids. If you feel comfortable, keep the environment quiet but add more people to your conversation. 

Pay attention to where speech comes from and how your ears locate sound in space as you communicate with multiple people. Silent communication builds understanding and prepares you to navigate sound in louder and more complex environments.

 

4. Set goals and take notes

Set achievable goals to help chart your progress, such as keeping TV at a certain level, or understanding multiple conversations at the dinner table at once. Setting a target, and then achieving it will show that you are making positive progress.

When meeting with your hearing specialist or audiologist, take notes during the adjustment period, and discuss what you see as issues. Is there a certain level of sound that you have trouble adjusting to, or are there some other fitting issues that should be addressed? 

 

Fitting is a process

When you get your hearing aids with us, we’re pretty sure your first fitting appointment won’t be your last. And that’s the way it should be! 

It takes time to get the fit entirely right, but we’re willing to take that time with you. Our fitting process is carried out with precision and accuracy, based on your hearing test results. To get started, contact us today to set up a hearing test. 

Preparing for a Hearing Aid Fitting

Hearing loss is currently impacting nearly 40 million Americans nationally. They are struggling to obey conversations, sustain close relationships, and are facing lower living standards as a result. The good news is that in the last couple of years, hearing technology has improved dramatically, and if you have hearing loss, your hearing aid options are excellent, and you can find hearing aids that will help you hear in any listening environment.

If you’ve taken a hearing test recently, you might be considering hearing aids. This is an excellent idea; hearing aids could lead to better hearing and improved quality of life. But before you can begin to enjoy the benefits of hearing treatment, you need to start the fitting process

Successful fitting of hearing aids is more than merely choosing the right device for your hearing needs. The hearing aids need to be correctly fitted into your ears to provide the right amount of amplification to maximize their benefit.

To that end, it takes a little planning to make the most out of your fitting appointment. Here’s what we recommend.

 

Allow an entire morning.

Set aside lots of time when scheduling your trip to a get fitted for a hearing aid. You want to make sure you have time to ask a lot of questions and take notes as your hearing professional is likely to give you an abundance of information.  

Be ready to tell them about your lifestyle, any hobbies that you may have, and other specific needs that you hope a hearing aid will satisfy. This knowledge will help the hearing professional recommend the right device for you. The last thing you want to do is schedule your fitting alongside a day of other errands. You’re going to want to be careful and take your time because hearing aids are a significant investment.

 

Prepare yourself with questions.

Take time to gather your thoughts before coming to your appointment and compile a list of questions for your hearing professional to answer.  

There’ll be plenty of new information to take in, and it’s not a bad idea to take notes with a pen and paper or a digital device once your questions are answered. While the audiologist will probably send you away with handouts, do not hesitate to write down anything you find essential to remember. 

 

Be clear about what you want.

Allow some time to think about your hearing priorities before your meeting. Think of the moments you struggle with your hearing loss, and take notes of the kinds of circumstances you could do with some extra support. 

Do you struggle to hear in background noise, or during work meetings? Are you afraid of driving because you can’t be sure you’ll be able to hear all the sounds around you? Understanding your goals will allow your hearing professional to support you, and they will configure your hearing aids to work in these conditions in an optimum way.

 

Adjust your expectations.

The fact is that if you have experienced hearing loss for many years, it will take the brain some time to get used to processing sound that it hasn’t heard for a while.

That means an adjustment period will be needed. Hearing aids help you process and amplify the right sounds. This doesn’t happen immediately but requires a retraining of the brain’s hearing process. Retraining your hearing with hearing aids includes exposing yourself to sounds that you haven’t heard in a while. This new audio stimuli takes some getting used to. 

Because of this transition, it is also unlikely that you’ll be happy with your hearing aid programming after just one fitting. You’ll probably have to visit your hearing professional several times for readjustments.

Although this is a process, we urge you not to give up on your new hearing aids. It will take some time and maybe several visits to your hearing specialist before they start to work for you at their highest level, but do not give up! 

Eventually, you will begin to feel the full effects of your new hearing aid. The benefits are likely to be realized in an improved quality of your social connections, work performance, and overall quality of life.

If you have any questions about the hearing aid fitting process, or to schedule an appointment, contact us today!

Communication At Work | May is Better Hearing and Speech Month!

The American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) is a community of audiologists, speech-language pathologists, students, and faculty members aimed at improving awareness of speech and hearing issues by removing common barriers to excellent communication.

Each May, ASHA hosts “Better Hearing and Speech Month” (BHSM) to jump-start their efforts. This year’s theme is “Communication at Work.”

 

How to improve communication during video conference meetings

It might seem strange to talk about hearing loss in the context of the recent stay-at-home orders and the coming economic recession. However, it is still pertinent, especially if you happen to be working at home using communication tools such as Zoom. 

The right meeting environment can improve communication for all and ensure the person with hearing loss has access to all the information they need to do the best job. 

Here are some tips for smoother video conference meetings.

 

What the meeting organizer can do

Make time for an icebreaker. Just like a regular meeting, make time for a preamble. This will help build a welcoming environment and promote interaction.

Insist on video for all participants. Whenever possible, use a virtual meeting platform to use webcams and insist that all participants use them. Visuals help people with and without hearing loss understand conversations much better.

Share your screen if necessary. If the meeting focuses on a specific document or resource that you are showing others, consider sharing your screen so that all participants can access the document or resource in real-time. Use your computer mouse to help highlight key areas or details you are discussing, or as a digital pointer to highlight the section you are talking about.

Record the meeting. Consider recording the session (after getting the consent of all participants). Let attendees know the meeting is being documented and where they can go to view it after the meeting. Because some attendees can encounter network connection problems or have their calls dropped, it is helpful for those who missed a section of the discussion or presentation.

 

What coworkers can do

Use good lighting. Participate in video calls in a well-lit space. When using a webcam, it’s better to have lighting in front of you rather than behind you. If all the light (electronic or natural) of a room is projected from behind a person and onto a camera, the facial features are difficult to see, restricting the facial expressions and lip-reading, which communicate vital clues to the sentiment of what the person is saying.

Don’t cover your mouth. Try to keep your hands, hair, and clothes away from your mouth when talking. This also helps you speak more clearly, which gives listeners the best opportunity to hear and understand you.

Use the mute button. If you’re not speaking, keep your microphone silenced. As multiple people attend an online meeting, background noise from each participant’s home as well as texting, eating, and so on can be highly disruptive.

Take turns speaking. Don’t interrupt others. It is harder to transfer from listening to one person to another in a virtual meeting. When it’s your turn, be as concise as possible, then let the conversation pass to the next person. Waiting your turn ensures everyone has an equal opportunity to share their thoughts.

 

What those with hearing loss can do

Use noise-canceling Headphones. Many headphones are now noise-canceling devices, which can make it easier to hear during the meeting without increasing the volume and raising the background noise. You may want to play with various headphone types to determine which style offers the best listening experience. 

Use Bluetooth Hearing Aids. If you’re wearing hearing aids, ask your audiologist if there’s an alternative that enables your hearing aids to connect directly to the device you’re using for virtual meetings. Most hearing aids are now ‘made for iPhone’ or ‘made for any phone,’ which helps them to synchronize to your favorite device.

Let others know if you can’t hear them. Speak to your boss and advocate for yourself if you can’t hear or understand others. If you’re struggling to understand, others might be struggling too. Although this might sometimes slow the meeting down, it would be worse to miss essential tasks, facts, or notifications during and after the meeting.

Whether you’re meeting your team remotely or plan to attend them when things reopen again, professionally-fitted hearing aids can help you perform your best at work. The first step towards the right hearing aid is a comprehensive hearing test. Contact us today to set up an appointment.