So, so many family get-togethers.
It likely seems like you’re meeting or reuniting with every relative you have, every weekend, during the holidays. The holiday season can be fun (and also challenging) for this reason. Usually, this sort 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 get-togethers might feel less inviting when you’re dealing with hearing loss. Why is that? What are the impacts of hearing loss at family gatherings?
Your ability to communicate with others can be seriously impacted by hearing loss, and also the ability of others to communicate with you. The end result can be a discouraging feeling of alienation, and it’s a particularly distressing experience when it occurs around the holidays. Hearing specialists and professionals have developed some go-to tips that can help make your holidays more enjoyable, and more rewarding, when you have hearing loss.
Tips to help you enjoy the holiday season
During the holidays, there’s so much to see, like lights, gifts, food and so much more. But there are not only things to see, but also things to hear: how Uncle Bob lost his third finger (what?!), how Julie is doing in school, how Nancy got promoted, it keeps going.
During holiday gatherings, make use of these tips to get through and make more memorable memories.
Steer clear of phone calls – use video instead
Zoom calls can be an excellent way to stay in touch with friends and family. That’s especially true if you have hearing loss. Try utilizing video calls instead of phone calls if you have hearing loss and want to touch base with loved ones during the holidays.
When it comes to communicating with hearing loss, phones present a particular obstacle. The voice that comes through the phone speaker can sound muffled and difficult to understand, and that makes what should be an enjoyable phone call annoying indeed. With a video call, the audio quality won’t actually get better, but you’ll have a lot more information to help you communicate. Conversations will flow better on video calls because you can read lips and use facial expressions.
Be honest with people
It’s not uncommon for people to have hearing loss. It’s important to let people know if you need help. It doesn’t hurt to ask for:
- Conversations to happen in quieter areas of the gathering (more on this in a bit).
- People to slow down a little bit when talking with you.
- People to paraphrase and repeat what they said.
People will be less likely to become annoyed when you ask them to repeat themselves if they understand that you have hearing loss. Communication will have a better flow as a result.
Find some quiet areas for talking
You will always want to steer clear of certain topics of conversation throughout the holidays. So, you’re strategic, you don’t just bring up touchy subjects about people, you wait for those individuals to bring it up. In a similar way, you should try to carefully choose spaces that are quieter for talking.
Handle it like this:
- Try to sit with a wall behind you. That way, there’ll be less background interference for you to have to filter through.
- For this reason, keep your conversations in areas that are well-lit. Contextual clues, such as body language and facial expressions, can get lost in darker spaces.
- Try to choose an area of the gathering that’s a little bit quieter. That may mean moving away from overlapping conversations or getting a bit further away from that raucous football game on the TV.
- Attempt to find places that have less activity and fewer people walking by and distracting you. This’ll make it easier to concentrate on the lips of the people speaking with you (and help you lip read as a result).
Alright, alright, but what if your niece begins talking to you in the noisy kitchen, where you’re topping off your mug with hot chocolate? There are a few things you can do in cases like these:
- Quietly direct your niece to a place that has less going on. Be certain to mention that’s what you’re doing.
- 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 somewhere quieter to talk.
Communicate with the flight crew
So what about less obvious effects of hearing loss on holiday plans? Like the ones that catch you by surprise.
Lots of people go on planes during the holidays, it’s particularly essential for families that are fairly spread out. When you fly, it’s essential to comprehend all the directions and communication provided by the flight crew. So you need to be sure to let them know about your hearing loss. This way, if needed, the flight crew can take extra care to provide you with additional visual instructions. It’s crucial that you don’t miss anything when flying!
It can be lots of work trying to communicate when you have hearing loss. You will often find yourself fatigued more often than before. This means that it’s essential to take frequent breaks. By doing this, your ears and your brain can get a rest.
Consider getting hearing aids
How does hearing loss impact relationships? Well, as should be clear at this point, in a lot of ways!
Every interaction with your family during the holidays will be enhanced by hearing aids and that’s one of the biggest benefits. And no more asking people what they said.
Hearing aids will let you reconnect with your family, in other words.
It might take a little time to get used to your new hearing aids. So it’s advisable that you get them well in advance of your holiday plans. Of course, everyone’s experience will differ. But we can help you with the timing.
You can get help navigating the holidays
It can seem as if you’re alone sometimes, and that nobody understands what you’re dealing with when you have hearing loss. In this way, it’s almost like hearing loss impacts your personality. But you aren’t alone. We can help you get through many of these dilemmas.
Holidays can be tough enough even under normal circumstances and you don’t need hearing loss to make it even more difficult. During this holiday season, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing your family and friends. All you need is the correct approach.