Hearing Loss: How to Listen Easier with Hearing Aids
Sometimes listening can become overwhelming whether you have normal hearing or wear a hearing aid because of hearing loss. We all want to hear as well as we can. Sometimes we place too great of emphasis on making sure we hear well (which often mean “hear everything”) when our effort should be on having a greater understanding of what we hear.
How do you reduce that overwhelmed feeling when you are struggling to hear?
- Look at all the places where you want to hear better. How are you able to control the noise levels in those places? Can you go at a time when there is less background noise? A minor change in the time you go can improve your ability and ease to hear your friends and family.
- Listen “happily.” Think of those times when you do hear well. What makes those times easier to hear? How can you carry those feelings over into other places and times?
- Realize that hearing better may include hearing “exercises” to give your ears–actually, your brain–training on how to listen in challenging places. Spend your time listening without trying to figure out if you are hearing better (e.g., hearing “everything”) or not. Sometimes, the effort spent on trying to decide if you hear better can take away from beneficial listening. Spending your energy and effort on listening and less on trying to decide if you heard everything, can improve the amount of time that you hear better.
- Spend more energy and time looking at the improvement that you experience and less time on feeling you are not successful at hearing everything. Congratulate yourself on the improvement.
- Rehearse how to hear in noise. Just as with physical exercise or playing a musical instrument, it takes practice. Use your hearing aids in an environment where there is a little noise. Practice listening to someone speak in this noise level for 10 minutes per day. After a week of daily practice, increase the noise level slightly. And practice at that level for one week. Repeat the exercise with greater amounts of noise. Be patient with yourself as you work to increase your ability to cope with the background noises.
- Don’t multi-task. Multi-tasking takes away your focus and attention to listening. When you are listening, do so in a low-stress situation where you can put your effort into listening and getting the most from the conversation.
Listening for meaning is more important than “hearing everything.”