Realistic Expectations for Hearing Aid Users

Once a person makes a commitment to better hearing and a higher quality of life, he may wonder if what he is hearing out of the new hearing aids is normal or not.  Are the hearing aids working appropriately?  Should he be hearing more?  Is he hearing TOO much?  It is important to discuss what “realistic expectations” for new hearing aid users means.

Hearing aids will help to do the following:

·         Hearing many sounds that were inaudible or unclear without hearing aids…sounds like soft speech, children’s voices, or other soft sounds.
·         Understand speech more easily in a variety of listening situations.
·         Understand speech with less effort than when not wearing hearing aids.
·         Prevent loud sounds from becoming uncomfortably loud; keep in mind that sounds that are uncomfortably loud for people with normal hearing may also be uncomfortable for a hearing aid wearer.
·         Understand speech more clearly in some types of noisy situations.
·         Make your voice sound different than you are used to hearing.
·         Help you to hear well, but not necessarily perfectly, in one-on-one and most small group settings.
·         Reduce stress and fatigue from straining to hear what is said.
·         Learning to hear again takes time, several weeks at the bare minimum if you are wearing the hearing aids faithfully and consistently.  Expect to go in for multiple follow up visits to work on settings; try not to be discouraged if it isn’t perfect the first day.
·         Expect that the hearing aids will need to be repaired from time to time; after all, they are working IN the body all day, every day.

Hearing aids cannot do the following:

·         Restore hearing to normal, or to pre-existing levels.
·         Sound like your “normal” hearing did, or like you remember it sounding.
·         Filter out all background noise.  Technology has come a long way, but hearing aids are still not perfect.  They cannot remove all background noise and keep speech present in all situations.
·         Work at 100% capacity if they are not properly cared for or cleaned.  That means that wax and debris needs to be cleaned out regularly, both by you and by a hearing healthcare professional.  The hearing aids need to be kept clean and dry, and away from hairspray or other contaminants.
·         Last forever.  Hearing aids should be expected to last 4-6 years on average, depending on how well they are cared for by the wearer.
·         If your hearing loss is severe to profound or if you have gone a very long time without hearing aids, amplification alone may not be enough to compensate for your hearing loss.  You might benefit from a speech or lip reading class, an assistive listening device, or to consider alternatives to hearing aids.
·         Hearing aids cannot repair another person’s poor communication strategies or habits.

Mike