10 Steps to Learning to Use Your New Hearing Aids

Different people react differently to using hearing aids. Your age, the severity of your hearing impairment and your acceptance of the need for hearing aids may strongly influence your reaction to hearing with amplified sound.

There is no magic in adjusting satisfactorily to the use of hearing aids. It requires practice and an application of common sense. Do not expect perfection. Accept limited successes as signs of your progress. We offer the following 10 practice exercises to gain the most benefit from your new hearing aids.

1. Use hearing aids first in your own home environment.

Your hearing aids amplify noise as well as they amplify music or speech. You may be disturbed temporarily by background noise. Concentrate on listening for all of the normal household sounds and try to identify each sound that you hear. Once you can identify background noises, such as the hum of the refrigerator, the roar of an electric fan, the clinking of dishes or the slamming of doors, these noises will tend to be less annoying and distracting to you.

2. Wear hearing aids only as long as you are comfortable with it.

Do not attempt to set an endurance record or to wear hearing aids at first during all of your waking hours. If you are fatigued after using the aid for an hour or two, take it off. Let the way you feel be your guide.

3. Listen to just one other person.

Accustom yourself to the use of hearing aids by listening to just one other person – husband or wife, neighbor or friend. Talk about familiar topics; use common expressions, names or a series of numbers for practical purposes. After a few days of practice with one person in a quiet environment, try a different listening exercise. Turn on the radio or television and with this auditory distraction, try to understand your companion’s speech.

4. Do not strain to catch every word.

The importance of listening carefully and of concentrating on what is being said cannot be overemphasized, but don’t worry if you miss an occasional word. Normal hearing persons miss individual words or parts of sentences and unconsciously “fill in ” with the thought expressed. (Keep your eyes on the face of the speaker. Speech reading can be a great help as a supplement to hearing aids.)

5. Do not be discouraged by the interference of background noises.

Remember you are learning new habits or, rather, relearning old habits in a new setting. Normal hearing persons are aware of background noises too, but have learned to push them out of conscious awareness. As you learn to discriminate between noise and speech and to identify various background sounds, you also will be able to ignore extraneous noises just as persons with normal hearing do.

6. Practice locating the source of sound by listening only.

Localization of sound (the determination of the direction from which the sound comes) often presents a special problem to hearing aids wearers. One exercise that helps to develop directional perception is to relax in a chair, keep your eyes closed and have someone speak to you from different places in the room. Each time your helper changes his position, attempt to locate them through the sound of their voice alone.

7. Practice to learn to discriminate different speech sounds.

Prepare a list of words that differ in one sound only. For example: food/mood, see/she, could/good, ball/all, feel/peel, gown/down. Have your helper pronounce these words slowly and distinctly. Watch the lip movements closely while you carefully listen for the differences in similar pairs of words.

8. Listen to something read aloud.

A good exercise in listening is to have your companion read aloud from a magazine or a newspaper while you follow along with your own copy of the reading material.

9. Gradually extend the number of people with whom you talk.

You will find that it is more difficult to carry on a conversation with 3 or 4 people than it is to talk to one. Concentrate mainly on the individual who is talking the most.

10. Gradually increase the number of situations in which you use hearing aids.

After you have adjusted fairly well in your own home to background noise and to conversation with several people at once, you will be ready to extend the use of hearing aids to the supermarket, church, theater, and other public places. Turn the volume low to reduce the impact of unfamiliar background noise; do not sit under balconies; move about in different areas of the auditorium or theater until you find a section or a seat where you can hear well.

And remember, you can always contact us if you have any questions during this period.

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