Gatherings. So many family gatherings.
It probably feels like you’re meeting or reuniting with every relative you have, every weekend, during the holiday season. That’s the appeal (and, some would say, the curse) of the holiday season. Normally, it’s easy to look forward to this annual catching up. You get to check in on everybody and find out what they’ve been doing!
But those family gatherings may feel less inviting when you have hearing loss. Why is that? How will your hearing loss affect you when you’re at family get-togethers?
Hearing loss can interfere with your ability to communicate, and with others’ ability to communicate with you. The resulting feelings of alienation can be particularly discouraging and distressing around the holidays. Hearing specialists and professionals have formulated some go-to tips that can help make your holidays more pleasant, and more rewarding, when you have hearing loss.
Tips to help you enjoy the holiday season
There’s so much to see around the holidays, lights, food, gifts, and more. But there are not only things to see, but also things to hear: how Uncle Bob lost his third finger (what?!), how school is going for Julie, how Nancy got a promotion, it keeps going.
During holiday get-togethers, use these tips to get through and make more unforgettable moments.
Use video chat instead of phone calls
Zoom calls can be a great way to keep in touch with friends and family. If you’re dealing with hearing loss, this is especially true. Try utilizing video calls instead of phone calls if you have hearing loss and want to touch base with loved ones throughout the holidays.
When it comes to communicating with hearing loss, phones represent a particular challenge. It can be very difficult to hear the garbled sounding voice at the other end, and that can definitely be frustrating. You won’t get clearer audio quality from a video call, but you will at least have visual clues to help figure out what’s being said. Conversations will have a better flow on video calls because you can read lips and use facial expressions.
Be honest with people
Hearing loss is incredibly common. If you need help, it’s important to communicate that! It doesn’t hurt to ask for:
- People to paraphrase and repeat what they said.
- A quieter place to talk.
- People to slow down a bit when speaking with you.
When people are aware that you have hearing loss, they’re not as likely to get irritated if you need something repeated more than once. As a result, communication tends to flow a little bit smoother.
Find some quiet areas for talking
You will always want to avoid certain topics of conversation throughout the holidays. So you’re cautious not to say anything that would offend people, but instead, wait for them to bring up any delicate subject matter. Similarly, you should try to carefully select areas that are quieter for talking.
Here’s how to deal with it:
- There will be quieter areas in the home where you have conversations. That might mean moving away from overlapping conversations or getting a little further away from that raucous football game on the TV.
- By the same token, keep your discussions in areas that are well-lit. If there isn’t enough light, you won’t be able to pick up on contextual clues or read lips.
- Try to sit with a wall behind you. That way, there’ll be less background interference for you to have to filter through.
- Try to find places that have less motion and fewer people walking by and distracting you. This will put you in a better position to read lips more effectively.
So what if you’re in the noisy kitchen, filling up your mug of hot chocolate, and your niece starts talking to you? In situations like this, there are a couple of things you can do:
- Suggest that you and your niece go somewhere quieter to talk.
- If there’s music playing in the area, politely ask the host to turn the music down so you can hear your niece a little better.
- Quietly direct your niece to a spot that has less happening. Be sure to mention that’s what you’re doing.
Communicate with the flight crew
So how about less apparent impacts of hearing loss on holiday plans? Like the ones that catch you by surprise.
When families are spread out, lots of people need to fly somewhere. It’s important that you can understand all of the directions coming from the flight crew when you fly. Which is why it’s really important to tell the flight crew that you have trouble hearing or experience hearing loss. This way, if necessary, the flight crew can take extra care to provide you with extra visual instructions. It’s essential that you don’t miss anything when flying!
It can be a lot of work trying to communicate when you have hearing loss. You will often find yourself fatigued more frequently than before. This means that it’s important to take regular breaks. By doing this, your ears and your brain will get a rest.
Invest in some hearing aids
How are relationships affected by hearing loss? Well, as should be clear by now, in many ways!
Every conversation with your family through the holidays will be enhanced by hearing aids and that’s one of the greatest benefits. And, the best part, you won’t have to continue to ask people to repeat themselves.
Put simply, hearing aids will help you reconnect with your family.
It might take a little time to adjust to your new hearing aids. So it’s advisable that you pick them up well in advance of your holiday plans. Everybody will have a different experience. But we can help you with the timing.
You don’t have to get through the holidays by yourself
It can seem like you’re alone sometimes, and that no one can relate to what you’re going through when you have hearing loss. In this way, it’s almost like hearing loss affects your personality. But you aren’t alone. You can navigate many of the challenges with our help.
The holidays don’t have to be a time of trepidation or anxiety (that is, any more than they typically are). With the correct approach, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing, your family around this time of year.