Part Time Listener
Lately we’ve had a few clients who came in wanting better clarity when they wear their hearing aids. These clients actually have good quality products. I connected their hearing aids to the computer to read out the usage information. Well, here is the interesting news, these clients are only wearing their hearing aids a few hours a day.
They thought they could just wear their hearing aids when they needed to hear. Maybe they think hearing aids are similar to eyeglasses. When eyeglasses are put on you have instant perfect vision.
Hearing aids do make sounds louder instantly. So we can hear with less strain. But wearing hearing aids does not instantly improve your comprehension.
Listening to conversation is more like reading. Both involve comprehension which happens in the brain. Understanding what is being said occurs with more exposure to conversations. The more experience you have with conversations the more understanding you will have.
Hearing aids amplify sounds we grew up with, but it may have been awhile since your brain heard it. Sounds that occur infrequently are not processed the same as sounds that occur with consistency.
If you had kids or worked around children then you will understand how parents go “deaf” to the noise children make. However, when kids are in the house and they become quiet the silence is almost deafening.
This is an example how the brain, not the ears, regulates what is important to listen to. When kids are banging around, talking loud and laughing, we relax into the noise and chaos. When the kids are quiet, we as parents or caregivers go on high alert and wonder what they are up to.
When these clients only wore hearing aids, “When they needed to hear,” they weren’t helping their brain process the sounds. By constantly wearing hearing aids and becoming accustom to other noises the brain would begin to process conversations with more importance and allow background noise, clanking and chatter, to fall into the background.
Even though the new technology in hearing aids will soften the background sounds and amplify speech, your brain processing this information will get faster and easier with more listening and participating in conversations.
Wear your hearing aids as frequently as you can in the environments you want to hear well in. Just like the parents, your brain will identify the sounds you care more about.