We often praise the connectivity of modern hearing aids: they can stream music, enable you to take phone calls, even connect to your television via Bluetooth*, but another benefit that a client recently told us about is the interesting “stories in my pocket” functionality.
This was how one of our clients Denise described it. Denise recently came to see us for a check-up and told us how much she loved being able to have “stories in her pocket” – she went on to explain how she is delighted she now has the facility to stream audiobooks directly into her hearing devices while she is cooking, baking or out for a walk. “Game-changer!” she enthused!
Another client mentioned audiobooks too. She commented how she hates housework, but with the new ability to stream audiobooks (free through her library app) directly into her hearing aids she actually looks forward to cleaning the house now and considers it a bit of a “me time” treat!
Other clients have also spoken of how they are now discovering all kinds of content through podcasts and streaming the radio to their hearing devices as they go about their day. We are so pleased to hear how this is enriching not just their hearing experience but also our clients’ lives.
As well as being enjoyable, audiobooks can also serve another couple of important purposes: helping you to adjust to your new hearing aids and also to help prevent dementia.
It’s really important, when you are fitted with new hearing aids, to wear them throughout the day to allow your brain to get used to the wide range of new sounds that it is now having to process. It is your brain that does the hearing: your ears collect the noise and send it to the auditory processing areas of the brain that interprets these signals into meaningful sounds. Your brain won’t be used to processing the sounds it has been missing and needs as much practice as possible to get back into the swing of things again.
A recent client, Laura, at her six monthly check up, asked us to adjust her hearing aids as they sounded “too noisy” despite perfectly matching her hearing test prescription. As it transpired, she had only been using her new hearing aids for a couple of hours per day (at most) as she lives alone and didn’t see the point of putting them in unless someone popped round or the phone rang. Most of the time they just sat in their box. When she did use them, the sounds were too overwhelming for her.
This is because the brain needs time to adapt. It needs training to “hear properly” again. This can only be achieved through using your new hearing devices for longer periods of time, to enable you to get used to everyday background sounds such as your ticking lounge clock, the birds chirping, the sound of the dishwasher and so on. Things you might not need to hear but are good practice, nonetheless.
We advised Laura to wear her hearing aids all day, every day. Perhaps put the radio or the TV on for short periods during the day to give the brain some training time. This will mean that sounds aren’t overwhelming, as may happen with just occasional use. This scenario is where audiobooks are a perfect solution. Audiobooks can be streamed to your hearing device/s directly, or simply listened to on speakerphone on your tablet or phone to help you get used to processing speech clearly again.
And audiobooks don’t just help your brain to adapt to their new hearing capabilities. It has been found in various studies that social isolation can lead to a decline in cognitive function, which in turn can lead to depression and even, eventually, dementia. Hearing speech regularly, even via an audiobook, can keep the brain active, happy and mentally and cognitively healthy.
We love a story in our pockets too. Here’s a list of some of the angli-EAR team’s favourite audiobooks/podcasts if you are looking for some exciting new listens!
- The Count of Monte Cristo audiobook by Alexandre Dumas
- Breathing Cure audiobook by Patrick Mckeown
- Lessons in Chemistry audiobook by Bonnie Garmus
- Small Things Like This audiobook by Claire Keegan
- Terrible Kindness audiobook by Jo Browning Wroe
- Old Babies in the Wood audiobook by Margaret Atwood
- Something Rhymes with Purple – Podcast with Susie Dent from Countdown about different words and their origins
- Podcasts by Guardian ‘Today in Focus’
- The MDTea podcasts on hearing aids by https://thehearingaidpodcasts.org.uk
*TV connector box required.