Listening and hearing are two separate talents. It is possible to retrain your brain to become a better listener. Our ears as we know them, funnel sound, however, we “hear” with our brain. Differentiating speech from noise and understanding speech is accomplished by the brain.
Donning a pair of hearing aids is only the beginning of a journey towards better hearing. Listening takes a lot of practice and with repeated stimulation to the existing fibers of the hearing nerve we can accomplish the most.
Wearing hearing aids only when you think you need them isn’t always the best idea. Consider running a marathon. Would you show up the day of the race without training to build up your endurance? I doubt it. Your muscles would never forgive you. Putting on a pair of hearing aids allows for improved hearing, just like putting on a set of running shoes helps to provide for a comfortable run. Listening requires practice, just like training for a marathon. Practice and having the right tools is what ultimately leads to success.
There are programs to help improve listening skills. One of the original products, LACE (listening and communication enhancement) can be purchased online. When LACE was introduced, we sent every patient home with a copy and clear instructions. Sad to say, compliance was low. Would you have orthopedic surgery without physical therapy? Most likely not. Hearing in background noise is the most common complaint for hearing aid wearers. Retraining your ears results in increased success listening, especially when the environment becomes challenging.
Another favorite retraining tool is an app called HearCoach developed by Starkey Hearing Technologies. The good news is that the app is free of charge. Studies show that doing listening exercises or playing listening games has a positive impact; making you a better listener.
If you choose to challenge yourself to one of these programs, make sure that the tablet or computer you use has enough volume. After all if you can’t hear, your efforts will be wasted.
If you have questions, ask an Audiologist. We’d love to get you on the right path.