Again and again, when I talk about my hearing loss and my role as Open Ears editor, people tell me about their relative, acquaintance, or friend who has hearing loss of some degree, got hearing aids, but never wears them. This is a well-known problem in the industry, of course. I haven’t done checking out the existing research on the topic, but after an umpteenth discussion — and a failed fitting in my history — I do have a few thoughts to share.
If I go back to my personal experience, there was a major difference between my first (failed) fitting and the one that got me wearing hearing aids on a daily basis three years ago: the first time, I was sent home with “perfectly tuned” hearing aids and that was it. In my memory (though it might be failing me), no follow-up appointment. The second time, I was sent home with barely amplified hearing aids and clear follow-up instructions.
Of course there are other differences. I was 13 at the time, 25 years older at my most recent fitting. Technology had evolved. I’d had time to accept the fact I have hearing loss. As a teenager, I was “told to go”, whereas as an adult, I made my own decision.
But I can’t help but think that sending newly fitted people home with hearing aids on “full blast” is a bad idea for a first fitting. Everything I know about habituation and resistance to change screams against doing that. Baby steps is usually what it takes for lasting change, rather than huge sweeping revolutions. Remember those new year resolutions you never keep? Yeah.
Have you been fitted with hearing aids that stayed in a drawer, or do you know somebody in that situation? I’m curious as to what other people’s hypotheses are regarding the reasons for all these failures, I have to say.