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Most people who are properly fitted with hearing aids by an experienced audiologist will get good benefit from them but it’s important to understand that improved hearing isn’t a simple straightforward process. It is not like wearing glasses where you often instantly see better once putting them on. This is because hearing rehabilitation is more about retraining the brain rather than your ears!

Let’s look at 5 things you need to understand about your hearing to truly get success with your hearing aids:

1. Understanding improved hearing takes time

Most hearing losses occur gradually over time and sadly our brains get used to hearing in a quieter world. This lack of stimulation, however, is incredibly bad for our brain though as it forgets how to listen and untreated hearing loss significantly increases our risk of developing dementia (even with a mild loss). Getting used to wearing hearing aids takes time as our brains need to learn how to listen to the world we live in again. The time it takes varies from person to person but the only way that your brain can do this is if you wear your hearing aids on a consistent daily basis, ideally for at least 6-8 hours per day.

2. Understanding the important balance of clarity vs comfort

Some people with hearing aids may report that the background noise is too loud. In most instances this isn’t the case it’s just your brain is used to hearing much softer and it needs time to adjust to hearing all the things it hasn’t heard as it should. Hearing devices come with different prescriptions, programs and differing levels of noise reduction technology. It’s important that you choose the right device to meet your hearing needs from the get-go and then have it adjusted to balance comfort and clarity. If you cannot wear your aids comfortably it is very important that you return to your audiologist to get help as these issues can usually be easily fixed.

3. Know what your speech understanding potential is

With different hearing losses, each individual person has a maximum speech understanding potential with hearing amplification. It’s important to understand what your potential is and how this might affect your hearing rehabilitation progress. There are ways in which your Audiologist can test your speech reception abilities and this information will help you have realistic expectations of what you can achieve with hearing aids and what other options you may need to increase your understanding of speech. Options such as assistive listening devices or FM/Roger technologies can assist you to hear better with specific listening situations such as the phone, TV or noisy situations.

4. Understanding that hearing aids are only part of the answer

‘Hearing aids’ are as the name suggests – an ‘aid’ to your hearing. If worn and used correctly they can make such a powerful life-changing difference to people’s lives. It is however also important to understand they are only part of the answer. You need to start looking at how you and your family and friends are communicating with each other and how to better address this or the environment that you are in. Audiologists are well placed to train you and your family in how to use these strategies with your hearing goals.

5. Understanding the importance of regular maintenance

We don’t expect our cars to run well without regular maintenance and we can’t expect our hearing aids to do this either. It’s very important that you do a daily clean and check of your hearing aids and keep them clear of any wax, moisture or debris. Regular battery changes or recharging are necessary to ensure your aids are giving you the correct amplification at all times. You also need to have your hearing reviewed and your hearing aids checked over at least once every 12 months with your hearing provider. This is important to both monitor your hearing for changes and to also ensure that your hearing aids are working optimally.

Hearing Wellness provides both accredited government and private mobile hearing services including free/subsidised services & devices for pensioners & veterans. Until the end of October Hearing Wellness is offering FREE in-home hearing tests for Brisbane residents over the age of 60, so if you or a loved are having difficulties with your hearing please feel free to contact Hearing Wellness on 1800 934 327 or info@hearingwell.com.au to arrange an appointment. For further information please visit www.hearingwell.com.au.

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Joshua Flett
Joshua is the Principal Audiologist and Clinical Manager for an independent and government accredited Mobile Audiology Service called Hearing Wellness. He has a Masters Degree in Audiology and has over 10 years’ experience working as an Audiologist. He has had a diverse career previously working for Australian Hearing, the National Health Service in the United Kingdom and at the University of Queensland. Joshua brings with him considerable experience working as the Audiology Clinic Manager at the University of Queensland and has a passion for hearing education. He specialises in both adult and paediatric hearing rehabilitation. Joshua believes in providing holistic hearing care using the latest research, technologies and hearing rehabilitation strategies to improve the quality of life for those with a hearing impairment and their loved ones.