Getting a hearing aid for the first time can feel a bit overwhelming. The temptation for many of us adjusting to life with a new hearing aid is to only use it when we feel like we really need it. We may not have it on at home, but take it with us if we’re on our way to a crowded restaurant. Perhaps some of us are still in the process of accepting the fact that we need a hearing aid in the first place.
But like many other good habits, wearing a hearing aid cannot be something that we do on occasion. The reason behind this is that our brain needs a little chance to catch up to the fact that a hearing aid it can receive incoming audio signals a lot better.
Hearing loss happens over time, and often without much notice. Years may have passed before you come to the realization that you are missing out on big chunks of life because of your degraded hearing. In the meantime, your brain has become used to processing a decreasing number of audio signals. It has begun devoting processing power to other parts of the brain instead.
When you introduce a hearing aid into the equation, your brain is inundated with a flurry of audio signals it hasn’t had to deal with in years. As a result, you may feel overwhelmed by all the noise you’re hearing. You may even feel like although you can hear more, you still are having a hard time understanding the person talking in front of you.
That’s because your brain needs to be retrained. It needs consistent, prolonged exposure to the hearing aid to be able to become used to and capable once again of handling incoming signals and filtering out the ones that aren’t important.
While it may be tempting to use your hearing aid only when you really need it, you won’t be doing your brain any favors by skipping out on wearing it all the time. Instead, try wearing your hearing aid throughout the day, every day. At first, the experience might be a bit overwhelming, especially as you’re becoming used to receiving and filtering a whole symphony of noises at once. But as time passes, your brain will become more adept at ignoring the sounds that don’t matter and focusing on the sounds that do.
In the meantime there are a variety of exercises you can do on your own to help your brain adjust more quickly:
Hearing Training Apps
Just like there is an app for about any need we have, there are useful apps for hearing training too. These apps will introduce you to increasingly noisy environments gradually as you finish each level with success. It’s a simple and easy way to help your brain along as it adjusts to the hearing aid.
Read Aloud To Yourself
Another exercise to consider is reading to yourself. Because you are both generating speech, and then receiving that speech simultaneously you’re giving your brain a guide when hearing each word. This will increase your ability to decipher words more quickly, especially in noisier environments.