Some things in life just take time to get used to. That new pair of glasses sitting on your nose takes getting used to. Those new high heals are a little steep until you get used to walking in them. How about your dentures or even a new crown on your tooth? And yes...even your hearing aid will take time to get used to. Why? Well, because of sensations and stimulation that is being sent to the brain. They are familiar, but also new sensations, and the brain has to figure out what to do with them and at the same time learn to accept them.
So how long does it take to get used a hearing instrument? Well, that depends upon several things. Research shows that it can take 6-8 months for the brain to determine new stimulus as “normal.” That time table is based on wearing your hearing instruments 14 hours per day. Some people may be quicker and some actually slower depending upon personal variables.
There is not a “cut and dried” answer. For example; if someone has had a severe high frequency hearing loss for many years (this is the type where your volume seems OK but you can’t understand people...especially in noise) and the brain isn’t used to hearing high pitched sounds then often people may feel like things are too sharp or tinny. The good news is that with appropriate amplification we can wean the patient into their needed prescription for better speech understanding. This can take months. Another patient may have a mild loss and has only gone a couple of years and usually will adapt quickly to amplification. And then again; if we have someone with a “flat” loss (where everything has dropped pretty evenly across the chart) it doesn’t even depend upon the degree of hearing difficulty. Once the deficit is corrected they usually adapt pretty quickly.
Lifestyle will also be a factor as to how quickly one becomes accustomed to their new hearing instruments. Active people will need instruments that can adapt to many different types of environments. Depending upon speech discrimination abilities a patient may need to make adjustments of the hearing instruments with either a button, remote control, app on their smart phone or some additional accessory.
While some patients don’t want to have to “press a button” ... others want all the control they can get. There is no right or wrong to this. It is what works best for the patient. Some may start with the hearing aid “doing it all” and then decide a couple months down the road they wish they could have a specific setting for the clubhouse. Not a problem. You are wearing a little computer, we just have to go in an activate the program. This is why follow-up appointments are so important with your Hearing Health Care Provider.
Motivation and family involvement will also speed up the transition. I have seen spouses who are so very supportive help to relieve the stress of getting used to “new sounds.” I have seen spouses and kids help to motivate patients in trying new things like accessories for watching television or learning a new smart phone which can pair to their new hearing instruments.
Some patients may be prone to anxiety. Some may have had a stroke which may inhibit their ability to focus and understand. Often patients suffer from dexterity or vision problems and this makes their life harder. There are so many variables.
Research proves that wearing hearing instruments slows cognitive decline. According to the American Academy of Audiology; in October 2018, research done by Maharani et al (2018) examined the role of hearing aids in slowing cognitive decline in older adults. This study showed that a person’s ability for “word recall” (episodic memory) was mitigated with the use of amplification by 75 percent. Wow!! That is huge. There are not many things that we can control 75 percent of... There are many more ongoing studies as to the benefits of hearing aids in slowing down cognitive decline! You can protect your brain.
Be proactive with your hearing and your health. Better hearing is a journey that you must take with your Hearing Health Care Provider. Together you will build a strong team...and a strong bond. To Hear Better Is To Live Better.