Hearing loss affects almost 40 million people in the U.S. yet only a portion of those use hearing aids to manage their hearing loss. Experts estimate that of those with hearing loss just about 30% of adults over the age of 70 and less than 20% of adults between the ages of 20 and 69 use hearing aids. While there are many reasons people choose not to use hearing aids, many people decide not to continue using them because they have difficulty acclimating to them.
If you are one of those who gave up using hearing aids out of initial frustration or you’re just getting started with hearing aids, listening activities can help.
Hearing aids are powerful, but not magic
Over the last couple of decades, even the last couple of years, hearing aids have progressed more than many could have imagined. They are now faster and more effective than ever, revolutionizing how people with hearing loss hear.
What many don’t realize when opting for a hearing aid is that hearing better still takes time. While hearing aids can make a significant impact, they can’t do it overnight, and the longer you’ve lived with hearing loss before getting hearing aids, the longer it may take.
You can thank your amazingly adaptable brain for that! Experts believe that the principles of neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to adapt, reorganize and create new connections for most efficient operation, come into play even in the earliest stages of hearing loss. It is neuroplasticity that we then have to rely on when we are regaining hearing with the help of hearing aids.
How to rebuild hearing ability in the brain
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither can your brain be rewired to hear better in a day. According to experts, there are two main ways to retrain your brain to hear. The first is by wearing your hearing aids every day, all day (not just when you think you may need them) and the second is through listening activities.
Listening activities are various techniques that help the brain forge new connections to improve hearing. As it rebuilds what has been lost due to hearing loss, hearing aid users experience clearer and more robust hearing ability. While your hearing healthcare provider can also recommend various activities, these listening activities can help you get started:
- Read a book out loud
- Listen to and write descriptions of the sounds around you
- Use auditory training programs like these
- Watch a TV show with the closed captioning on
- As you listen to an audiobook, follow along by reading in the actual book
Hearing aids can help people with hearing loss rejoin the conversation and start hearing more clearly again, but not as quickly as many think. If you’re new to hearing aids, the most important thing to remember is to be patient with the process. It can take time to adjust and retrain your brain, but it’s worth it!
If you’re ready to start managing your hearing health, get started with a hearing evaluation. If you have hearing aids but need help getting adjusted to them, contact us for more listening activity ideas to improve your hearing with brain training.