Having a spouse who doesn't hear well can be frustrating, and you may think that once they get hearing aids, all their hearing problems will go away. Professional hearing assessment and the right hearing aid(s) will indeed help, but it's also important to have realistic expectations about what hearing aids can and can't do. The following are some tips about what to expect.
1. Their hearing is not going to be perfect
No one's hearing is perfect. Hearing aids do not give someone super-sonic hearing abilities. Don't expect your spouse to be able to hear every single sound in every situation. Sometimes they will still struggle to hear well, especially in environments with lots of background noise like restaurants and social events.
2. Both of you will need to make adjustments
Misunderstandings from problems with hearing will still occur, just much less often. Making minor adjustments in how you communicate will help. For example, talk face-to-face, make sure you have your partner's attention before you start a conversation, talk in the same room, and reduce or eliminate background noise. Even people with normal hearing have difficulty understanding without these adjustments.
You may be used to talking loudly to your spouse, but now that they have hearing aids, try turning down the volume and speaking slowly. You can also change the way you say something. For example, if you asked what sounds good for lunch and they didn’t understand, ask if left over chicken sounds good for lunch.
3. What to do if they aren't wearing their hearing aids all the time
What if your spouse wears their hearing aids all day at work but takes them off once they get home? What if they want to wear them only when around other people? What if they complain that their hearing aids don't fit well and say that's why they don't like wearing them.
First, if their hearing aids are uncomfortable, it's time to make an appointment with your audiologist. There are many options to explore for the alleviation of discomfort.
Another thing to keep in mind is that constant use of hearing aids is essential for improved hearing. The brain has grown accustomed to not hearing, and it needs to relearn how to hear well again. Sporadic use will disrupt the learning process and reduce hearing aid effectiveness.
Your best response will be to ask why they aren't wearing their hearing aids, encourage them to wear them all the time, and suggest an appointment with the audiologist if they aren't wearing them regularly.
Finally, the best thing you can do as a spouse is to practice good communication skills, set realistic expectations and work together to make conversations-and everyday life- easier and more enjoyable for both of you.