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This week’s Big Question is one we get from spouses, adult children, and other family members all the time. Why doesn’t my loved one wear their hearing aids? Whether they are asking about their husband, wife, mom, dad, grandparent, or friend, it can be so difficult to understand why your loved one’s hearing aids stay in the drawer instead of on their ears. There are a few common reasons why people don’t wear their hearing aids consistently.

They aren’t the right hearing aids for them

Sadly, often the reason people don’t wear their hearing aids is that they aren’t the right instruments for their hearing loss or their needs. When deciding which hearing aids to purchase, people often have very strong ideas about what they want. Perhaps they wanted a completely-in-the-ear hearing aid when this isn’t the most appropriate style for their hearing? Sometimes people have very demanding hearing lifestyles but don’t buy the required top-level technology due to financial constraints. There can be a lot of reasons why someone might end up with a hearing aid that isn’t the perfect fit for them, and when this happens, they don’t get the benefit they want, their expectations aren’t met, and the instruments often end up in the drawer instead of on their ears. It is so important to have a frank discussion with your audiologist when discussing your options. If she is recommending a specific style or technology level that you don’t feel is right, find out why she recommended it. Some things can be compromised one, but remember, your needs must match the hearing aids you get.

The hearing aids need some adjustment

If the person’s hearing has changed, or their needs have changed, the hearing aids might not be doing what they need to do for them anymore. If the person isn’t getting the benefit they need from the aids, they might give up on wearing them! Regular hearing testing is crucial for hearing aid users, as is having the hearing aids checked and serviced. It is recommended that hearing aid wearers undergo a hearing assessment and hearing aid adjustment annually to ensure that the instruments are always set appropriately for their hearing. Sometimes people stop wearing their hearing aids because they are uncomfortable or no longer fit them well. If this is the case, they should see their audiologist, as a fit issue can almost always be overcome by adjusting the aids or modifying their style.

They gave up before they were fully adjusted to the hearing aids

It takes time to adjust to the sound of hearing aids. Often the aids can feel too loud and can amplify all sorts of sounds around you at the beginning. It takes the brain some time to settle into the sound of the hearing aids and to learn to use this sound as best it can. Unfortunately, some people give up too soon, and never fully adjust to the instruments. This classically happens when someone only wants to wear the hearing aids in the most challenging of environments. If they haven’t adjusted to the sound when they are in a normal, quiet situation, they would find a situation with background noise or a big group to be overwhelming! This might cause them to stop wearing the instruments altogether. It is crucial that hearing aid users, especially new hearing aid users, wear their hearing aids all the time, even when they are alone at home. The more you wear them, the faster you will adjust, and the better the benefit you will receive from them. Fully adjusting to hearing aids can take many months for some people, so don’t give up. If you aren’t happy with your instruments, go and see your audiologist for some fine-tuning to get them working well for you.

They weren’t ready for the hearing aids in the first place

If your loved one purchased their hearing aids because they felt pressure from those around them, it might be that they aren’t wearing them because they weren’t ready. The results of hearing testing tell us whether someone needs hearing aids, but personal readiness is one of the biggest factors determining how successful someone will be with them. If the person is forced into purchasing them or buys them to keep their spouse or children happy, chances are they might end up in the drawer. Accepting their hearing loss, and accepting the hearing aids, can be a very big step for some people. While it is essential to fit hearing aids at the right time, someone who is wearing hearing aids that they don’t want is unlikely to commit to the adjustment phase, and might not even be willing to admit that the instruments make a difference. Sadly, these instruments often end up not being worn.

How can I get my loved one to wear their hearing aids?

If you think one of these reasons might be why your loved one doesn’t wear their hearing aids, encourage them to go and see their audiologist. Sometimes starting fresh with a hearing test and setting up the instruments as new can help them to see the hearing aids with fresh eyes, and become more aware of the benefit they bring. Don’t nag them- rather give them as much support and encouragement as you can.

Do you have any questions or comments about this topic? Comment below, or contact us. We’d love to assist you and your loved one if we can.