HOW ARE YOU HEARING? Is it as good as it should be. Are you taking care of your brain? We have all heard the saying, “good things are worth the wait.’ Many people go for years before they will find the courage and take the step toward better hearing. If asked; many will say they are getting by just fine. In reality…they really believe it too. After all, you don’t really know if you are hearing as well as you should be. Often the reason that the person decides to investigate better hearing is because of a spouse or family member.
Why do people wait? Sometimes it is the fear of the unknown.
After all, not many of us want to go to an appointment to get bad news.
Not many of us are thrilled with the idea of having to wear a hearing aid. It’s just one more thing to have to deal with. Once you and your spouse know you have a hearing loss...NOW you must deal with it. There are decisions to made! Some will make a positive decision towards better health and others will bury their heads in the sand. They will do nothing. Nothing for themselves or their loved ones. Nothing. That is why after a hearing test is completed, we will spend the much-needed time to demonstrate what today’s hearing technology sounds like. It may just bring tears to your eyes.
So, what happens if you wait. Your brain starts to go into atrophy.
The auditory part of your brain starts to shrink. Your little “hearing hairs” will become extra sensitive because of lack of stimulation. The problem with this increased sensitivity is that it makes it harder for your brain to accept amplification. The longer you wait the more difficult it is for your brain to identify the sounds properly. Speech may sound funny at first when you correct your hearing loss. It may sound tinny or perhaps even harsh. Wind may seem exceptionally loud. These items can be addressed with the advanced technology of hearing instruments today. However: the brain is a different story.
The individuality of brain equates to different adaption and success rates among hearing instrument wearers. If you think you have had a hearing loss for a ‘few years’, then more than likely it has been around 7 years. If you tell us, you have had hearing problems for probably 15 years...OMG!! THAT IS AN ETERNITY!! What I mean to say... calmly...
It takes the average brain 6 - 8 months of wearing a hearing instrument to say that the sounds are “normal/natural.” This is based on a study back in the 1990’s by AARP. (And a wearing schedule of 14 hours per day). This is not the amount of time that it takes you adapt to the hearing instruments and to appreciate them. It is just the brain getting used to what sounds and speech really sound like.
Do you have a hearing loss? Do others tell you that you should get your hearing checked? If you are not understanding speech, then you are probably missing some of the high frequencies in which the consonants exist. So, what else are you not hearing properly? Perhaps the blinker in your car. Silverware sounds. Machine noises like the refrigerator. The newspaper when you turn the pages. Your feet as you walk across the floor. Carpet and tile have different sounds that you should be able to hear if your hearing is normal. How about the sound while you are brushing your teeth. If shouldn’t be soft. How about your car running. Newer cars are quiet; but you should still be able to hear it. My goodness, if you pull into your garage and forget to turn off the engine because you didn’t hear it running, you could kill yourself or someone else in the home.
If you wait long enough to correct your hearing loss you may wait too long. You know the saying; “if you don’t use it, you lose it.” This is so very true. I don’t know of anything that gets better without practice and activity. Your brain needs activity. Your brain needs practice at hearing and communication. Your brain needs auditory stimulation at the proper intensity. Your brain improves with constant stimulation.
Now, I have your attention. So, you jump to it and get a hearing test and hearing instruments. This is where the fun starts for all involved. I mean that sincerely. It really is fun and rewarding to help people get their lives back. Most importantly we try to make it fun for you as well. Some of the best advice that I can give to patients is to enjoy the sounds of hearing. It took a long time for you to get the hearing loss (hopefully) and a long time for you to do anything about it. Therefore, you must give yourself time. Time for you brain to adapt. Time for us to gather data from your hearing loss on the speech and noise signals in your life. Time for you and us to learn what YOU need and what you can accept. Don’t give up. Remember the AARP study mentioned earlier. (6-8 months at 14-hour days for most people’s brain to adapt hearing instruments). While this seems like a long time...we all know it really isn’t. It’s not like we fit you with the hearing instruments and turn you lose. It’s an adjustment period. What bugs you for the first few weeks won’t even be remembered in 9 or 10 months. “Good things are worth the wait!”
Don’t live in your own quiet little bubble. If you wear hearing instruments…give yourself and your brain time to adapt to all the beautiful sounds in your busy world. If you are having difficulties adapting, it will get better. It takes time. Everyone’s time frame for adjustment is different depending upon technology, personal history, and hearing loss level. Take the necessary steps! To Hear Better Is to Live Better!