Last updated on Apr 21, 2018
Studies have shown it takes 21 days – just three short weeks – to form a new habit or make a lifestyle change. That change could be anything from eating more fruits and vegetables, sticking to an exercise routine, or getting used to wearing hearing aids.
Hearing aids take you on a journey; they help form a partnership between your ears and your brain. Unlike eyeglasses, where once you put them on everything comes into focus, hearing is a more nuanced process. Your brain needs to relearn how to filter the wide range of sounds your hearing aids will enable you to hear. Even people with Tinnitus or ringing in the ears may benefit from wearing a hearing aid.
On the first day you wear your hearing aids, some sounds may seem too loud—water running in the kitchen sink, the mantle clock ticking, the crinkling of plastic grocery bags, and footsteps in the next room. What’s different is that your brain is learning how to prioritize those sounds. Hearing loss is a gradual process, as is regaining the sounds you were once missing. A little bit of patience and practice will help build and refine your hearing-to-brain connection. Start by wearing your hearing aids 30 minutes a day, gradually building up to wearing them all day.
By the middle of day four, you may find yourself feeling a bit tired and overstimulated by the full range of frequencies you’re hearing. Listening will continue to become easier as the week goes on; you may even have to ask people to stop yelling as you can hear them more clearly. Try some simple hearing exercises, like listening to the lyrics of songs you know by heart or watch your favorite TV game show and guess the answers without reading them off the screen. You’re training for a hearing marathon, not a listening sprint.
As you enter week two, you’ll find conversations are better, that you’re easier to talk to and have a greater understanding of what’s being said, instead of guessing to fill in missed words and misinterpreting meaning. In week three, you should be able to hear voices more clearly without thinking so much about it. Your brain is filtering out insignificant sounds and isn’t working as hard to process those sounds. The amount of effort you’ll need to put into listening will decrease, leaving you feeling more energized and communicative.
There will come a breakthrough moment about three weeks into wearing your hearing aids (on a regular basis); that aha moment when you realize you can differentiate between quiet sounds and silence, between everyday noises and the unusual or unexpected. Conversations will be easier and you’ll find yourself doing things you haven’t done in years, like enjoying bird songs, the sound of leaves rustling in the wind, or conversations with friends in a busy restaurant. You’ll be amazed by how much you’ve been missing.