Congratulations on helping your clients start their journey to better hearing, better communication, and better health. As hearing care professionals (HCPs), we know how important the adjustment period is for new users. It can be overwhelming for them at first; they not only need to learn to use the hearing aids themselves, but to learn how to hear with them and navigate their new sound environment. It is during this time that they will start their journey to become a successful hearing aid user or not. As an HCP, we want to aim for the former and not the latter of those two outcomes. So how do we help our users get the most out of their adjustment period? Here are a few tips to help set your clients on the path to success.
Counseling is key
At the first fitting there is a lot to do. You need to fit the hearing aids, run REM, make adjustments, show the user how to use them and then…help them understand their new way of hearing.
I know there is a lot to do at the first fitting and a lot for the clients to take in, but the last point is important to help our clients be successful. This is the purpose of the adjustment period after all. So how do we do it?
Yes, there is a lot going on during the first fitting, so any information you give them should be simple to understand. Focus on some of the more important points of first time hearing aid use that can most effect their daily activities. After you have fit the hearing aids, stop and take a breath before moving on to the next part. Or make an introduction to the new topic so that there is a clear split between the information about their hearing aids and how to understand their new hearing. Here are a few ideas about what to include:
- Yes, everything will sound different, but this is normal. The adjustment period will help you acclimate to the new sound and make the new way of hearing your everyday hearing.
- Having realistic expectations is very important.
- Hearing aids can help compensate for your hearing loss and improve communication, but they are not a cure for hearing loss.
- It takes time. Time for your brain to learn how to process the new sound. Time for you to relearn how to ignore everyday mundane sounds, like a fan or the hum of the refrigerator. Time to acclimate to hearing more sound than you have heard in years. Give yourself time to adjust to the new sound, it will not happen overnight.
- Having hearing aids does not ensure you will never have problems hearing again. Noisy places especially can continue to be problematic. This is normal not only for hearing aid users but for those who do not having hearing loss as well.
- Start small and work your way up.
- Try to avoid going immediately to busy and loud places. Start at home for the first day or two, venturing out to less busy areas and finally going about your normal schedule.
- Try to wear the instruments all day. If that is not possible at first, start with a few hours and then add more time each day.
Provide information to take home
Learning something new takes time. Most of what they hear and learn at the first fitting may be forgotten. In addition to verbally counseling them, it is helpful to also provide something tangible to take home. It can provide the same information as listed above; plus, any other important points you want to add. However, try not to fill the whole page with small text, as this will make them less likely to read it.
The information can be provided in written form, electronic form or maybe you even have videos posted on social media. I have known some clinics to also have new user seminars. Some hearing associations have premade and readily accessible information you can use. The more options your clients have to easily find information they can access, the more likely they will use the information. You can also share our Bernafon tips and tricks.
But don’t stop there! Use the follow up visit to readdress this information again. As with learning any new skill…Repetition, Repetition, Repetition.
Remind them you are there for them
We all know the problems that can befall a new user. The first fit is too loud, an earpiece or device causes pain in or on the ear, they cannot connect to the app/phone, etc. All of these issues, and more, can prevent the client from using their instruments. They need to know that if they have a problem, they are not alone. The fitting is adjustable, to return if they have any pain and that it is ok to ask for help if they are having issues. I know this sounds basic, but they often forget you are there for them when they need help.
Let them know before they leave that if they have any problems, they can call, email, make an appointment or connect via telehealth. Whichever is your preferred form of communication with your clients.
Success is our goal
We want our clients to be successful hearing aid users. We need to provide them with the tools and assistance to help them reach their hearing goals.
We want our clients to be successful hearing aid users
If we can help them understand that it will take time and requires a little patience and practice, then they will be able to hear better and be on their way to becoming a successful hearing aid user.