Getting hearing aids can be a major change for many people. One of the best ways to get adapted to your new devices – or learn more before you make the decision to wear hearing aids – is to attend a hearing aid orientation event or series of events.
What is a hearing aid orientation?
A hearing aid orientation is for anyone who has hearing aids, is trying them for the first time or is considering getting them. Hearing aid orientations are often open to family members as well. For example, the audiology clinic at the University of Akron has a Hearing Orientation Program (HOP) that "is open to anyone whose life has been touched by hearing loss. We welcome people who have experienced hearing loss, their family members, friends, and neighbors to a series of classes designed to inform, entertain, and support the participants."
Most hearing aid orientations are offered free-of-charge at university audiology clinics and other organizations, and private clinics may have a small fee. The classes often involve weekly meetings that last for about four to six weeks and are between one and two hours long. Oftentimes, hearing aid orientation providers will link you to other helpful services and resources.
During a hearing aid orientation, various topics about hearing loss, life with hearing aids and the function of the devices will be covered, including:
- Understanding what an audiogram measures and means.
- Understanding the different types of hearing loss and what they mean for you.
- How hearing aids work.
- What hearing aids can and cannot do for you.
- How to clean, repair and troubleshoot hearing aids.
- What assistive listening devices and technologies are available to you aside from hearing aids.
- Device demonstrations and hands-on teaching.
- Tips for better hearing and communication for both the person with hearing loss and his or her family and friends.
- An introduction to speechreading.
- How to make the most of listening with your hearing loss.
- Coping strategies.
- How the ADA protects and supports people with hearing loss.
Benefits of hearing aid orientation classes
There are a myriad benefits to attending a hearing aid orientation. Here are some of them:
Increased comfort and ease of use
When you get your first pair of hearing aids, it can feel overwhelming because there is a lot to learn. However, an orientation class can be a great tool because knowledgeable and compassionate hearing healthcare experts will walk you through the steps to inserting, checking and replacing batteries, troubleshooting and other various technical tips and tricks to help you maintain and use your hearing aids. You won't feel that you have to do it all on your own, and if you bring family members or friends, they can help you.
It takes many people who could benefit from hearing aids a long time to start using them, often because they don't know other people who wear the devices. But at a group orientation for hearing aids, you can meet many others who are also learning to adjust to their new devices. This can make it easier to talk about your struggles and triumphs and to understand that your experience is not unique. There are others that you can learn from.
Learning as a family
Hearing aid orientations make learning a community affair. Friends and family members will learn how they can best support you in your journey to better hearing.
Many times, people with hearing loss have waited a long time to get hearing aids and their fear of saying the wrong thing due to mishearing can lead to avoidance of social situations. This can lead to isolation and loneliness. By connecting with others and learning about hearing loss in a group setting how to best adapt to new devices, people can build up their confidence again and feel good about the future.