If you have received new hearing aids, congratulations! As you have already found, these assistive devices can transform your perception of the world. Many people find that hearing aids are immediately helpful, and they enjoy the new sounds and sensations that were missing for so long.
However, others find hearing aids overwhelming at first. When you have been getting along without hearing assistance for a while, perhaps a long time, the sudden return of sounds can be disorienting without some time to get used to the new sensory environment.
When it comes to your everyday experience, taking time to acclimate to hearing aids can be a slow and steady process, but one context that can be dangerous is driving. The following tips are essential to slowly get used to using hearing aids while driving, preventing a possible accident.
Adjusting to Hearing Aids
As you know, hearing aids are not like eyeglasses; whereas vision can become suddenly clear with glasses, hearing is not immediately “clear” when you insert hearing aids. Before you try driving with hearing aids, learn to use them in everyday life.
By wearing hearing aids in a quiet home or walking around a pleasant environment, you can become aware of your surroundings in a new way. It can be helpful to slowly add more chaotic sound environments into your repertoire before attempting to drive. For instance, try to become comfortable wearing hearing aids on a walk through your town or city before you try driving with them.
Try Driving in a Safe Location
Before you hit the busy freeway with your hearing aids in place, take the opportunity to drive in a safe environment with the support of a friend or family member. An empty parking lot is an ideal way to test out driving with hearing aids. If you can’t find an empty parking lot, perhaps a quiet residential street is a good place to start before you embark on a busy street with other traffic.
With your hearing aids in place, take note of the variety of sounds you hear and the dynamics of loud and soft. Your supportive friend can offer context for jarring sounds, especially if you hear a siren approaching or a construction site.
Take Note of Your Physical Ability
Hearing is only one of the senses used to remain aware during driving. Eyesight is the most important sense, but we also use other senses to remain aware of other cars on the road or potential dangers. In order to check your blind spot and to increase the range of vision, you will need to be able to easily turn your neck. If you have physical limitations to mobility, the associated limitations to vision can become unsafe for driving.
Make Necessary Accommodations
If you have any limitations to driving ability in addition to hearing loss, then you will need to make accommodations to remain a safe driver. Power brakes and steering are normal features of vehicles today, but make sure these functions are fully operational. Extra-large rearview mirrors can be helpful accommodations, particularly if you have stiffness, pain, or limitations to your ability to turn your head.
You may want a seat pillow to raise your body higher in the vehicle if you feel that the highest seat position is not sufficient to give you a good view of the road. Finally, don’t forget to check on the effects of medication. Read through the warnings for all medications you take to make sure that you are not unintentionally driving under the influence!
With these pointers in mind, you should be able to use your hearing aids while driving to have an overall safer experience. Awareness of sirens, car horns, construction, and other vehicles are all essential components to safe driving, and once you learn to use hearing aids they can make it possible to hear all of these elements acutely.
If you find that these steps are insufficient to feel comfortable with hearing aids on the road, then make a call to our team. We are here to provide any assistance you may need with your new hearing aids.