As our loved ones grow older and wiser, their hearing may not follow suit. By 60, around one-third of adults will struggle with hearing loss. By 80, that number jumps to 80%.
Unfortunately, hearing loss is an incredibly common problem facing millions of adults — especially older adults. Fortunately, there are options.
Modern solutions like hearing aids can help your loved one experience the joys of sound again, but hearing aids have an adjustment period.
If your loved one is one of the over 3 million Americans that have purchased a new hearing aid this year, you should be ready for an adjustment period.
Here’s everything you can expect now that your loved one can hear again.
1. Set Expectations
Hearing aids don’t work overnight. Your brain and hearing structures (e.g., ear canal, cochlea, vestibular system, etc.) are like muscles.
Losing your hearing rarely happens overnight. It’s a long, drawn-out process that often involves aging or loud noises. So, by the time your loved one gets a hearing aid, they’ve likely suffered a slow decline in hearing for years.
Those muscles are out-of-practice. You have to train them again.
Hearing aids will restore sounds immediately. But whether or not your loved one can adequately process those sounds is a different story. It takes time.
Your loved one must stick it out, regularly visits their hearing specialist, and understands that they’re in for a journey — not a quick fix.
2. There’s an Adjustment Period
Hearing is incredibly complex. It involves your brain, ear anatomy, and other senses. So, when your loved one first puts on hearing aids, it may feel strange.
They’ll suddenly hear background noises they’ve tuned out, listen to pitches that they haven’t been able to hear for years, and experience tones and noises they haven’t heard in years.
This takes some serious adjustment. Imagine this: you haven’t been able to hear most of the background noise that exists around you 24/7 (e.g., mowers, insects, wind, fans, etc.) Suddenly, you can hear all of it.
That would be strange, right?
Remind your loved one that the adjustment period requires patience.
They may need to take breaks without the hearing aid, go through multiple programming and fitting sessions with their hearing specialist, and formulate new routines with their hearing aids.
3. Practice Makes Perfect
Working those hearing muscles again is only one part of the process. Your loved one also needs to develop routines and actions specific to their new hearing-aid-involved life.
From learning cleaning habits and how to store their hearing aids adequately to adjusting their daily routines to include their new device, living with hearing aids requires practice.
Your loved one must touch base with their hearing specialist regularly during this period.
Not only can their hearing specialist help them fit and program their hearing aid for their specific hearing needs, but they can give them the advice and materials they need to make hearing aids a regular part of their daily routine.
We Can Help
Hearing aids are magical. They help millions of Americans experience the world around them in incredible new ways.
But they don’t do it overnight. Be prepared for an adjustment period.
During this period, your loved one should reach out to their hearing specialist for regular fitting, programming, cleaning, education, and advice.
Remember, hearing is one of the most profound human senses, and the hearing aid adjustment period is well worth the payoff.