Hearing Aids Aren’t Enough without Good Communication Habits
If you’ve taken the first step toward better hearing by investing in hearing aids, you deserve to be congratulated. But your satisfaction is not guaranteed by a simple purchase. You have a responsibility to develop good communication habits designed to maximize the benefits you receive from wearing hearing aids.
To achieve the desired results, remember hearing is not passive. To understand and communicate effectively, you must learn to be a good listener and to control your environment to help compensate for your hearing loss…even while wearing hearing aids. To maximize the benefit you receive from your hearing aids:
· Commit to wearing your hearing aids! If you’ve ever worn contact lenses, you know it takes some time to get used to wearing them. The same is true with hearing aids. You must become accustomed to how they feel your ear and to hearing sounds you may not have heard for a very long time. For example, if it’s been awhile since you’ve heard a bird sing or a clock ticking, you may initially find these sounds irritating. But give it some time. Your brain will adjust to hearing these sounds and soon they will become normal. Do not stop wearing your hearing aids during this adjustment period. Be patient and focus on the commitment you have made to your hearing health.
· Show off your hearing aids. Don’t hide them. It is your responsibility to inform those with whom you communicate that you have difficulty hearing and are wearing hearing aids. Become a partner with the person to whom you are speaking. Give them guidance to allow you to communicate effectively. You must face the listener when you talk, tell him or her to speak louder or move the conversation to another room if the environment is too noisy.
· Control your environment. If you know you are going to be in a situation where background noise will interfere with your ability to communicate effectively, formulate a plan to minimize it. For example, arrive at a restaurant early so you can choose seating away from the source of background noise. Prepare in advance by looking online for restaurants that post their menus. By familiarizing yourself with the menu ahead of time, you will eliminate your need to ask the waiter or waitress to repeat menu choices.
· Make eye contact. You will discover communication improves when you can evaluate and interpret body language and facial expressions.
· Practice your listening skills. You can do this by listening to the radio or an audio book. There is even an auditory rehabilitative software program you can buy for your computer that will allow you to practice listening in background noise.
· Be patient and “keep your eyes on the prize.” In time, listening with hearing aids will become second nature and you will be rewarded with the joy of hearing all the sounds of life.