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Learning to use your hearing aids to improve your listening (and listening to improve the use of your hearing aids)

The following information is my synopsis of an article from the Better Hearing Institute website. It includes comments about the services that we provide through Denver Hearing Aids. (I have enclosed my comments in parentheses.)

There is a frequent misconception that hearing aids are the “cure all” for hearing loss. However, the hearing aid is only part of the process to hear better.

The first step in the process of getting a hearing aid is becoming an informed consumer. To do this, you should be aware of what your hearing loss is like and how the hearing loss causes the problems you are having.

The next step is to become knowledgeable of hearing aid options, the adjustment process, and the use of compensatory strategies for better communication to improve your success with amplification.

Ask your family members or significant others to attend the testing and fitting sessions. It will help them understand better the hearing difficulties you have and the options that are available to you.

Successful use hearing aids is based upon realistic expectations. Everyone has their own expectations for amplification so it is very important that your hearing health provider understand your unique expectations about amplification. Hearing aids will not return your hearing to “normal,” but improving your ease of communication with hearing aids is realistic. Unrealistic expectations often lead to frustration, disappointment and often failure.

Your hearing health provider can help you establish realistic goals for improving your communication. That assists you and the hearing health provider in choosing the best options for you.

(At Denver Hearing Aids, we ask you to complete questionnaires to assist us in determining your needs and expectations so we can recommend hearing aids that will help you meet those needs and expectations. We want to learn your individual needs, goals and expectations. We discuss with you which goals are realistic and achievable given your hearing loss and needs. We also discuss which goals may not be realistic or may not be reachable with any hearing aid.)

There is more to getting hearing aids than just purchasing them. You should be provided an orientation to the use of the hearing aids and counseling on how to get the most from them. (At Denver Hearing Aids, we take the time to assure you receive the maximum improvement available with the chosen hearing aids. This is done through the way we adjust the hearing aid for your hearing loss and needs, providing you with training to get the most out of the new sounds that you are hearing and counseling on listening strategies that can help you. It also includes on-going care and training.)

Adjustment to hearing aids and learning to hear again can be challenging. At first, the newly amplified sounds are different than what you have been hearing. You may be surprised when you first hear foot steps, refrigerator noise and distant laughter that you have not heard in years. Because the brain has not received this type of stimulation for perhaps many years, it may take a while for you to adjust to these new sounds.

You brain has to relearn to hear, particularly in noisy situations. As you use the new hearing aids, it becomes increasingly easier to communicate; however, adjusting to amplification is an individual issue. Some people adjust immediately and others may take weeks or months to adjust to the new world of sound. Your hearing health provider can help you through this period by making adjustments to your hearing aids or suggesting other strategies.

According to Patricia McCarthy, Ph.D. Professor, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL, “Hearing aids are powerful, effective tools for increasing your ability to hear. But hearing aids will not automatically make you a better listener. That takes work! Listening requires attention, concentration and interest. Often times, people with hearing losses develop poor listening skills. This occurs because hearing becomes so difficult that they give up and just “turn off” the speaker. Once you are fit with hearing aids, it is imperative that your listening skills be resharpened. Your hearing health provider should work with you to improve these skills.”

Using hearing aids does not mean that you will no longer need to rely on your vision to assist you in conversations. The eyes provide much information to help you understand speech. The brain combines the visual speech information with what you hear. This increases your ability to understand what others say. You want to use all the avenues you have to make hearing and understanding speech better.

Including family members and/or significant others throughout the process of purchasing and learning to use hearing aids is very important. They can learn about your hearing needs and what they can do to improve the ease of your understanding.

Simply purchasing hearing aids will not guarantee improved communication. It is important to remember: hearing aids are not a quick-fix. They are simply the tools that provide the amplification you need to become a better listener and communicator. Relearning to listen and engaging in active listening significantly improves chances for easier communication with hearing aids.

(At Denver Hearing Aids, our mission is to provide you with the appropriate hearing aids to improve your ease of communication–and to meet your expectations for easier communication.)

This information is a synopsis of an article entitled Aural Education and Counseling from the Better Hearing Institute. It is an excellent article written by  Patricia McCarthy, Ph.D. Professor, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL, and Ross J. Roeser, Ph.D. Professor and Executive Director.

Tags: hearing aids Denver, hearing aids, Denver hearing aids, successful use of hearing aids, digital hearing aids, hearing loss, lip reading, aural rehabilitation, aural education, Better Hearing Institute