Contributed by Debbie Clason, staff writer, Healthy Hearing
So you’ve received the hearing aids your hearing health professional prescribed for your hearing loss—and you hate them. What now? Should you leave them in your dresser drawer and decide to live with hearing loss?
How to not hate your hearing aids
First, don’t put those hearing aids away, never to be used again. Owning a set of hearing aids is just the first step. Learning how to use them effectively comes next. With just a little more effort, these technological marvels can make a huge difference in your overall health as well as your quality of life.
Unlike eyeglasses, hearing aids take more time to get used to, as your brain relearns to hear sounds it’s forgotten about. You also have to acclimate to the sensation of something in your ears, which will only happen once you wear them consistently.
Why do I hate my hearing aid?
There are a variety of reasons for being dissatisfied with your hearing devices. One of the most common reasons is that you were reluctant to get them in the first place. If that’s the case, reevaluate your perspective. Hearing aids provide important health benefits beyond helping you hear better, such as delaying dementia. Appreciating your hearing aids might be as simple as accepting you need them.
If you were on board with the diagnosis of hearing loss in the first place and are still dissatisfied with your devices, don’t give up. Martin Case, a hearing instrument specialist and founder of Fountain Hills Hearing Health in Fountain Hills, Ariz., said there are three primary reasons why people aren’t satisfied with their hearing aids:
- The hearing aids aren’t comfortable
- They don’t help the person hear any better
- The person doesn’t know how to operate them
Here’s the good news: All three of those reasons can be addressed, especially when you’re working with an experienced hearing healthcare professional.
“As we get older, learning new things can be a challenge,” he said. “If patients are willing to have a hearing evaluation, they’re in a good place to get the benefit.” The important thing is to speak up and let your hearing care provider know you’re having problems and unhappy with your hearing aids.
You can love your hearing aids
Case identified three important aspects in developing a good relationship with hearing devices:
- Make sure your own voice is acceptable. If your voice with hearing aids sounds different than you expected—tinny, for example—talk to your provider. They might be able to make some adjustments to your devices to help your voice sound more natural.
- Get devices that fit comfortably in your ears. Although hearing aids typically take time to get used to, they shouldn’t be painful to wear. If they are uncomfortable or the amplification is too loud, ask for an adjustment from your hearing center.
- Know how to insert the devices. If you’re having trouble putting your hearing aids in your ears, ask for help. Like most new things, there’s a learning curve—and practice makes perfect.
“Good care from a caring provider makes all the difference,” Case said. “I’ve found if patients have really good technology and follow-up care, it can help the patient help themselves.”
“Good care from a caring provider makes all the difference.”
Consider auditory rehabilitation
If you haven’t been hearing well for awhile, chances are you’re going to need some type of aural rehabilitation. Don’t fret—just as muscles atrophy when they haven’t been used in awhile, so too does our auditory system. It needs “exercising” to regain what it’s been missing.
Most hearing healthcare professionals include some aspects of aural rehabilitation with their care. At Fountain Hills Hearing Health, Case conducts a communication assessment before the hearing evaluation to make sure that the technology he prescribes will perform to expectations. He also schedules follow-up appointments to determine if there are areas for improvement.
Most aural rehabilitation programs include a hearing loss management program that may include the following:
- Behavioral steps that incorporate relaxation and well-being into daily activities
- Technological steps to determine what other technology, such as assistive listening devices, might be beneficial
- Preventive steps to identify difficult hearing environments and strategies to avoid them
- Restorative steps to create a plan for dealing with challenging or uncomfortable listening environments
- Educational steps for identifying online resources and auditory training programs to do at home
- Coaching with professionals, such as auditory training specialists or speech/language pathologists
Why you should work with a hearing healthcare professional
The degrees of hearing loss are as varied between people as eyeglass prescriptions, which is why everyone should be evaluated by a hearing healthcare professional. Not only can they determine how well you are hearing and help you identify the best hearing aid to treat your specific hearing loss, they also provide follow-up care to make sure your devices fit well and work as prescribed.
If you have hearing aids but aren’t wearing them because they don’t meet your expectations, take them out of your nightstand and have a frank conversation with your hearing healthcare professional.
“Don’t give up. That’s the main thing,” Case said. “There is help and hope for a better life.”
“Don’t give up. That’s the main thing. There is help and hope for a better life.”
For help in finding a qualified professional in your community, visit our directory of hearing healthcare professionals and hearing centers.