There are many facets of life that become unfamiliar when hearing loss related to aging enters the picture. Conversations while dining at a restaurant and making small talk at a party don’t function in precisely the same way they did when you first learned how to engage in these social rituals. You may need to learn new strategies before you find your footing and treating hearing loss with hearing aids can drastically improve your experience.
The same is true for driving. If you’re first encountering hearing loss after mid-life, it’s likely that you learned to operate a vehicle and spent decades on the road before hearing issues cropped up. You might not have realized how large hearing played a role in helping you navigate traffic, avoid accidents and maintain focus. And while hearing aids can help to restore that unconscious information, a few tips for driving with new hearing aids might come in handy.
What Is Age-Related Hearing Loss?
About one-third of people over the age of 65 have hearing loss. Most of these cases are attributed to presbycusis, or age-related hearing loss that occurs in both ears. The cause is pretty straightforward, due to the natural aging process. Over time, damage occurs to the sensitive cells of the inner ear, which are responsible for collecting the noise around you and turning it into sound information. The sound information consists of electrical impulses that are sent to the brain’s processing centers where meaning is made. The process is nearly instantaneous, with many components of the ear and brain working harmoniously together.
These inner ear cells are non-regenerative, which means that they don’t repair themselves or reproduce. Instead, we are born with a finite number and when we have less cells to collect and translate noise, we send less sound information to the brain. We hear less.
Tips For Driving With New Hearing Aids
As your audiologist has probably already told you, adapting to new hearing aids takes time. Rather than expecting new hearing aids to act like flipping a lightswitch on, it’s more realistic to compare the adaptation process to building a muscle. For some time and before choosing treatment, your brain has become used to hearing less. Now, the focus is on reacclimating your brain to receiving more sound. It might feel really annoying and even exhausting at first!
But the trick is to slowly and steadily continue wearing your hearing aids until it feels more comfortable and natural. Before you hit the road, spend some time wearing your hearing aids around the house until the initial friction subsides.
Begin with familiar routes
While it might be tempting to plan your Route 66 Road Trip for the day after you receive your new hearing aids, hold off for a bit. At first, once you feel ready to road test your new hearing aids, stick to familiar routes you travel often or even daily. The commute to work, the grocery store or a friend or family member’s house are all ideal inaugural outings.
Your fancy new hearing aids might be bluetooth compatible which will eventually make life easier. However, wearing new hearing aids while driving and trying out the bluetooth capabilities is heaping on a lot of new experiences in a way that could feel overwhelming. Instead, leave the tech explorations for another day while you keep your eyes and focus on the road in front of you.
Cue your passengers
The first few times you drive with new hearing aids might feel stressful or uncertain. That’s a completely normal response to trying something new. Let your passengers know that you want to be extra cautious and ask them to keep chatter and small talk to a minimum while you get your bearings. This extends to agreeing that the music or radio volume should be minimal or eliminated, too.
Schedule A Hearing Consultation
If you’re curious about how hearing aids might amplify your life, get in touch with our team. We’ll guide you through a simple hearing exam to see if you’re a good candidate for hearing loss treatment. Then, we’ll walk you through the easy process of finding the right hearing loss solution. Soon you’ll be on the path to your healthiest hearing possible.