February 6, 2023

The Importance Of Wearing Hearing Aids Regularly

The need for hearing aids is not uncommon, but for many people, getting into the habit of wearing them on a consistent basis is a challenge. They can take some getting used to, and for some people, it can be a bit overwhelming to feel as though everyone will know you have them in.

The need for hearing aids is not uncommon, but for many people, getting into the habit of wearing them on a consistent basis is a challenge. They can take some getting used to, and for some people, it can be a bit overwhelming to feel as though everyone will know you have them in. Yet, there are advantages to wearing your hearing aids on a regular basis. Doing so could help to improve your quality of life more than you realize.

Why Wear Your Hearing Aids All Day?

You may be wearing your hearing aids when you need to do so and avoiding it at other times. That could be when talking on the phone or engaging in situations where hearing is difficult, such as in a loud environment. However, there are some valuable reasons why you should be wearing them all day long.

It helps form a habit

It takes doing the same thing numerous days in a row to make it a habit. Many people who are wearing hearing aids for the first time find it hard to remember to put them in or take them with them on a daily basis. You may get halfway to work and realize you didn't bring them.

To help with creating a habit, start with a routine. After grabbing a cup of coffee in the morning or brushing your teeth, get in the habit of picking them up and wearing them. Put them down to charge if they are rechargeable as a component of your nighttime routine. This helps to make it less likely that you'll forget them when you need them. 

It gets easier over time

When you first start using hearing aids, the sudden, sometimes loud sounds can be unnerving. It's not uncommon for hearing aids to pick up sounds you haven't heard in a long time but didn't know you were missing. Take into consideration that getting used to that new sound quality isn’t something that can happen if you don’t use your hearing aids on a routine basis.

The more often you wear your hearing aids in various environments, such as crowded areas, outdoors, and in the home, the easier they become to wear. The uncomfortable loud sounds will become more natural and normal. That’s because your brain begins to adapt to it. The sooner you start wearing your hearing aids on a routine basis, the faster this happens.

Reduce the brain strain

Your brain isn’t used to having to strain to hear well. Yet, when your hearing is limited, even a small to moderate level, the more likely it is for your brain to have to work hard to understand the sounds in the area. That may not seem like a big deal, but it has implications in itself. 

The more your brain has to work to understand the speech and sounds around you, the faster you reach a level of mental health. That means you are more likely to become stressed or have trouble remembering conversations. 

Even worse, over time, this can create a situation called auditory deprivation. That means that your brain is going too long without being able to hear. As that happens, the brain begins to lose the ability to process sounds as it used to, which means that the areas of your brain go unused, shrinking in size and atrophying as well. This makes it hard for even your hearing aids to work well for you. Skip the problem by simply working to wear your hearing aids on a consistent basis over time.

Hearing loss leads to an increased risk of dementia

Hearing loss that’s left untreated puts you at risk for earlier onset of dementia. In a 2020 Lancet study of people in middle age, there was a significant increase in the onset of dementia in people with hearing loss that’s untreated. In fact, it could double the risk of the condition beginning. The report even went so far as to label the increased risk to the brain as bad as having a traumatic brain injury. 

Any type of hearing loss, even a moderate level of hearing loss, needs to be treated as soon as possible to ensure the brain continues to process sounds as it should. When that does not happen, the brain damage can be so severe it leads to an onset of conditions like dementia. There is no cure for dementia, and while there is no cure for all forms of hearing loss, the use of hearing aids can help to minimize the risk of the brain tissue suffering damage from a lack of use of hearing skills.

That doesn’t mean treating your hearing loss will completely protect you from getting dementia, but it could help reduce some of the risk you have of doing so. Consider that with few other ways to reduce this risk, it’s worth it to wear your hearing aids if it helps.

A lack of wearing them could worsen the risks of depression

A person who is unable to hear well – even with mild to moderate loss of hearing – is at a high risk of developing mental health disorders like depression. As noted by the American Academy of Audiology, people who have difficulty with hearing are more likely to withdraw from social activities and interacting with other people. That puts them at risk of developing depression.

Depression could include trouble sleeping and eating, feelings of guilt, and a loss of interest or pleasure in things that used to be enjoyable. For some people, this could mean low self-worth. With the use of hearing aids, the risk of depression brought on by social isolation lowers. The organization shares that 33% of people who are over the age of 70 and have any level of hearing loss have some impact on their daily communication. Ultimately, this leads to a lower quality of life.

You need to hear well all of the time to remain safe

Imagine walking down the street and not hearing all of the people calling around you to move out of the way of an out-of-control vehicle. Perhaps you are in a shopping center, and something is falling, but you don't hear people warning you of the risk. You may not hear a fire alarm or a police officer asking you questions. In short, there are times in your life when you are in very normal situations where you need to hear something urgent. If you cannot do that, you cannot keep yourself safe.

Wearing your hearing aids on a daily basis ensures you can hear what’s happening around you. That means being able to hear the people talking about you, the person thanking you for helping them, and even the small child that’s asking you for help. Without your hearing aids in, all of these seemingly simple things don’t happen.

Reduce cognitive decline

Not everyone that suffers cognitive decline will actually have dementia, but not wearing your hearing aids can lead to changes in your brain’s ability to function. As noted, that can occur because the parts of your brain that relate to hearing can begin to break down and function less over time. It also can mean other components of your brain suffer as well.

If you cannot hear well, you may no longer enjoy watching TV as much. You may no longer listen to speeches or take time to take a class. Many times, it is these instances of a lack of information and new content that impacts the quality of your brain’s function overall. If you don’t use your brain in all forms possible, it doesn’t work as well.

What Could Happen to My Loved One if They Don’t Wear a Hearing Aid?

Often, caregivers and loved ones of those who need to wear a hearing aid find themselves unable to convince their loved one to do so. What could go wrong? All of the above are true consequences of not wearing hearing aids. Here are some additional potential implications:

  • They may begin to avoid social situations. Over time, it becomes even more challenging to engage with other people because hearing loss typically continues.
  • They may struggle to remember things. 
  • There is an increased risk to personal safety, especially if they are driving a car. 
  • The onset of difficulty in hearing may impact a person's ability to maintain a job, especially if they are experiencing hearing loss that's moderate or worse. That could impact earning power.
  • It’s likely that stress, fatigue, and anxiety could occur and worsen over time.

Hearing Loss Doesn’t Have to Limit You

It's hard to recognize the need to wear hearing aids and then form a habit of wearing them. Try to set yourself or your loved one up for success by setting a reminder on your phone to use the hearing aids and keeping them within reach.

If you are struggling with hearing loss or think you may, don’t wait to get help. Seek out the support you need from a local audiologist who can give you some insight into what to expect.

Written by
Reviewed by
Dr. Melissa Karp, Au.D.
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Melissa Karp is a board-certified audiologist with special expertise in tinnitus treatment, auditory processing disorder (APD) evaluation, hearing aid fitting and aural rehabilitation.