Congratulations on your new hearing aids. Choosing to confront hearing loss with treatment is a profound step that will improve your relationships, enhance your listening capabilities and help you live the most vibrant and connected life possible.
Your audiologist will have likely discussed the adjustment period that comes with new hearing aids. Part of that adjustment is recalibrating all of your daily activities to your new hearing style. While it may be tempting to hit the road with your new hearing aids, you’ll have an easier, more enjoyable and safer ride if you take the time to prepare.
Settle into the adjustment period
At first, hearing with your hearing aids will be a new experience. Give yourself the allotted time to adjust to the way you are hearing. It’s not just you, your brain is also receiving new information which might leave you feeling overwhelmed and fatigued at times. Those feelings are all a normal part of the acclimation period, but they’re not the feelings you want to have when you’re behind the wheel.
You should spend at least a short time adjusting to the enhanced sounds and stimulation your hearing aids bring you, as you practice wearing them for increasingly longer periods. When it no longer feels overwhelming or effortful to wear your hearing aids, you’re ready to take to the open road!
Inform your passengers
Let your passengers know that you are in the process of getting used to driving with new hearing aids, if you feel comfortable disclosing that information. Ask them to keep the raucous conversation to a minimum, so that you can concentrate on getting everyone safely to their destination.
You might also ask that if any of them are playing navigator, they give you the next directions with plenty of time to process them, so that you are not trying to take a right hand turn from the left lane in a panic.
Hold off on Bluetooth
Like a new toy to play with, you probably want to immediately connect your Bluetooth hearing aids to your car’s stereo and calling capability. And you should! Just not immediately.
Wait a short while before connecting to Bluetooth and in fact, keep all the auditory distractions within your vehicle to the minimum. That means choosing to leave the radio off and declining phone calls until you are parked or out of the car.
It will be consuming enough to drive with just your hearing aids for a short while. Remember that your brain and ears are receiving more sound than they have for some time, so give them (and you) a bit of a break. Use your focus and concentration to simply drive and then, when you feel comfortable, you can slowly begin to introduce minor distractions into your routine.
Then, always wear your hearing aids when driving
Well, this might seem like a total 180, but once you are comfortable with your hearing aids, always wear them for driving! Particularly if you spent the majority of your life with healthy hearing, once you retrain your brain to rely on sound cues to assist you in your road safety, you’ll need to always have your most enhanced hearing to use as a tool.
Traffic noise, honking horns and sirens are all sound cues that help you expertly manage the controlled chaos of driving. If you become accustomed to using your senses to identify them, perhaps even subconsciously, it can be dangerous to leave home without your hearing aids for even a short trip.
Map out your route
There’s no better time to start a habit of planning and familiarizing yourself with your intended route. Make it easy to focus on one thing at a time by determining your general route in advance. If you are in an unfamiliar area, don’t rely on instantaneous navigation from your phone or navigation tool. Instead, familiarize yourself with the directions before you even shift the car into drive.
If you are planning a drive in an area you are very familiar with, take just a moment to visualize your route before you leave so that you feel very comfortable with each leg of your journey.
Enjoy your ride
Choosing to intervene in hearing loss can make driving an enjoyable activity again! You can once again partake in friendly travel conversation and feel more confident in identifying important traffic sounds like sirens and honking horns. As you progress with your new hearing aids, your ease and comfort will also increase.