Gatherings. More, and more family gatherings.
It probably feels like you’re meeting or reuniting with every relative you have, every weekend, during the holidays. That’s the appeal (and, some would say, the curse) of the holiday season. Typically, this type of annual catching up is something that’s easy to anticipate. You get to find out what everybody’s been doing all year.
But those family gatherings may feel less inviting when you’re dealing with hearing loss. What’s the reason for this? How will your hearing loss affect you when you’re at family gatherings?
Your ability to communicate with others can be greatly impacted by hearing loss, and also the ability of others to communicate with you. The resulting experience of alienation can be extremely disheartening and stressful around the holidays. Hearing specialists and professionals have developed 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 lots to see during 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 second finger (what?!), how school is going for Julie, how Nancy got promoted, it keeps going.
During holiday get-togethers, make use of these tips to get through and make more unforgettable moments.
Avoid phone calls – instead, use video calls.
For friends and family, Zoom video calls can be a good way to keep in touch. If you have hearing loss, this is especially true. If you have hearing loss and you want to touch base with loved ones over the holidays, try utilizing video calls instead of traditional phone calls.
When it comes to communicating with hearing loss, phones present a particular challenge. It can be very hard to hear the muffled sounding voice on the other end, and that makes what should be an enjoyable phone call annoying indeed. With a video call, the audio quality won’t necessarily get better, but you’ll have much more information to help you communicate. Conversations will have a better flow on video calls because you can read lips and use facial expressions.
Tell people the truth
It isn’t uncommon for people to suffer from hearing loss. It’s crucial to let people know if you need help. There’s no harm in asking for:
- People to slow down a little bit when talking with you.
- People to repeat things, but requesting that they rephrase too.
- A quieter place to talk.
People won’t be as likely to become irritated when you ask them to repeat themselves if they understand that you have hearing loss. As a result, communication has a tendency to flow a little easier.
Find some quiet areas for talking
Throughout the holidays, there are always subjects of conversation you want to steer clear of. So, you’re strategic, you don’t just mention touchy subjects about people, you wait for those individuals to bring it up. When you have hearing loss, this goes double, only instead of avoiding certain topics of conversation, you should carefully steer clear of specific places in a home which make hearing conversations more difficult.
Here’s how to deal with it:
- There will be quieter spots in the home where you have conversations. Maybe that means sneaking away from the noisy furnace or removing yourself from locations of overlapping conversations.
- By the same token, keep your conversations in settings that are well-lit. Contextual clues, including body language and facial expressions, can get lost in dimly lit spaces.
- Try to sit with your back to a wall. That way, there’ll be less background noise for you to have to filter through.
- Try to find places that have less activity and fewer people going by and distracting you. This will put you in a better position to read lips more successfully.
So what if you’re in the noisy kitchen, filling up your mug of hot chocolate, and your niece starts talking to you? There are a couple of things you can do in cases like these:
- You can politely ask the host, if there’s music playing, to turn it down so you can hear what your niece is saying.
- Suggest that you and your niece go someplace quieter to chat.
- Politely begin walking to an area of the gathering place where you can hear and concentrate better. Be certain to explain that’s what you’re doing.
Communicate with the flight crew
So what about less apparent impacts of hearing loss on holiday plans? Like the ones that sneak up on you.
When families are spread out, lots of people need to fly somewhere. When you fly, it’s important to comprehend all the instructions and communication coming from the flight crew. Which is why it’s really important to tell the flight crew that you have trouble hearing or experience hearing loss. That way, the flight crew can provide you with visual instructions if necessary. When you’re flying, it’s important not to miss anything!
It can be a lot of work trying to communicate with hearing loss. You will frequently find yourself fatigued more frequently than you used to. So taking frequent breaks is essential. This will give your ears, and, perhaps more importantly, your brain, some time to catch a breath.
Get some hearing aids
How does hearing loss affect relationships? Hearing loss has a considerable impact on relationships.
Every conversation with your family through the holidays will be benefited by hearing aids and that’s one of the biggest benefits. And no more asking people to repeat themselves.
Hearing aids will allow you to reconnect with your family, in other words.
Remember that it could take you a bit of time to get used to your hearing aids. So you shouldn’t wait until just before the holidays to get them. Of course, everybody’s experience will differ. So speak with us about the timing.
You can get help navigating the holidays
When you have hearing loss, often, it can feel like no one can relate to what you’re dealing with, and that you have to get through it all by yourself. It’s as if hearing loss is impacting your personality in this way. But there’s help. We can help you get through many of these dilemmas.
The holidays don’t need to be a time of worry or anxiety (that is, any more than they typically are). With the proper strategy, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing, your family during this time of year.