6 Compelling Reasons To Wear Your Hearing Aids More Often.

Important reasons to wear your hearing aids full time.

I spend over 50% of my clinical time educating patients on the importance of wearing their hearing aids full time. Unfortunately in Australia, studies have shown that around one third of hearing aids almost never leave the top draw.

Additionally only one third of Australia’s with hearing aids wear them for the recommended length of time, 12 hours, that is required to receive the full benefits (as well as cognitive enhancement) not to mention value.

1. The Glasses Myth

There is a common misconception that hearing aids can be worn like reading glasses. You simply pop them on in conversation and don’t need to wear them at any other time. Hearing aids don’t work in this way – your brain needs time to adjust.

Hearing aids work by amplifying sound as it enters your ears. This helps to enable sound to be converted into electrical energy and sent to the brain for interpretation.

Initially this can seem really overwhelming. This is because the brain is being inundated with so many electrical signals that you haven’t been hearing for a really long time. However, the more you wear your devices the faster this process occurs and the quicker your brain can adjust.

2. FOCUS

The brain needs to time. It needs to work out which sounds to focus on and which ones it doesn’t need to, like background noise. An example of this is the air conditioner or sound of a clock ticking in a quiet room. If we focus on them, we can hear them. However, after a while we don’t notice these background noises.

The more you wear your hearing aids the better. Your brain becomes faster at recognising speech and important sounds to go about your daily life and ignoring unimportant sounds like background noise.

If you only wear them for a few hours a day there isn’t enough time for this to occur. This is why if you haven’t been wearing them often and you go out into a group situation, like a noisy restaurant, it can feel really overwhelming. The brain hasn’t had enough time to adjust and filter out unwanted sounds.

3. IT TAKES TIME!

When we wear our hearing aids full time our brain is receiving more information from the ears. This increased level of stimulation can feel really overwhelming at the start. It is the number one reason why devices get left in the top draw.

When I am talking to my patients about being fitted with hearing devices for the first time, I like to call the first few weeks an acclimatisation period. This helps my patients to understand that this adjustment period does take time.

In fact the initial adjustment period for hearing aids can be several months. At the start it is really overwhelming. You simply aren’t used to that increased level of sound.

The best thing you can do is persevere, so the brain can adjust. Perhaps turn the volume down on them slightly, rather than taking them out. If they are too overwhelming, talk to your audiologist and they can make adjustments or recommendations for you.

Understand that the first few weeks are going to be the hardest. The more you wear your hearing aids at the start the faster this process will occur. Doing activities like reading a book aloud can speed up this process, especially in relation to how you hear your own voice.

4. DECREASE YOUR RISK OF HAVING A FALL

 When you have a hearing loss you have less environmental awareness. You are missing subtle cues like your footsteps and trip hazards beneath your feet.  The research shows you are 2.4 times more likely to have a fall with a hearing loss, than a person with normal hearing.

Additionally, many researchers believe that you have to use a lot more of your mental resources if you have a hearing loss. When we don’t wear our hearing devices full time we have to strain to hear. We are also relying on the visual parts of our brain to lip read and interpret hand gestures. We rely on our memory more to piece together what is going on from previous experiences.

Dr Frank Lin is the world leader in hearing and brain health. Dr Lin says that “Gait and balance are things most people take for granted. However they are actually very cognitively demanding,” Dr Lin explains that hearing losses uses more of our mental resources as we struggle to hear. This leaves fewer cognitive resources to help maintain balance and gait (walking). One of the reason’s why he, and many other researchers have demonstrated a link between hearing loss and increased falls.

 5. INCREASE YOUR ENERGY LEVELS

In the previous point we discussed how we have to use more of our mental resources when we are struggling to hear. It is very common for people with hearing loss to feel exhausted by the end of the day. When you need to rely on watching faces and sometimes guessing what has been said, you are using far more cognitive resources that communicating via hearing alone.

If we treat hearing loss and wear hearing devices full – time we are decreasing that cognitive load, which consequently can improve those feelings of exhaustion.

REDUCE YOUR RISK OF COGNITIVE DECLINE

Finally, there is a direct link between cognitive decline and hearing loss. With hearing loss there is an under stimulation of the corresponding parts of your brain that interprets sound.

Studies have shown up to a 30 – 40% loss in brain matter in the areas associated with speech, hearing language and memory when hearing loss is untreated. Fortunately, recent studies have shown that such loss can be reversible with full time hearing aid use. It’s why hearing is SO important and a VERY IMPORTANT reason to keep your devices in full time.

CONCLUSION:

There are so many benefits to wearing your devices full time. The research shows the benefits not only affect you but also those you care about the most. Treatment of hearing loss isn’t just about getting them fitted. It’s about wearing them on a full time basis, meaning around 12 hours per day.

So the next time you are thinking about leaving them in the top draw until you are having a conversation, I hope you take a moment to think back on some of these compelling reasons to keep them in from when you wake up in the morning and retire to bed at night.

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If you would like to understand more about the link between cognitive decline and hearing loss, you can order a complimentary copy of my book here: Order Your Free Copy Now

If you are worried about if you have a hearing loss or are frustrated with the devices that you currently have and would like a second opinion to see if we can get you wearing them more frequently, please feel free to book in for a complimentary consultation with me. Book Now