Gatherings. So many family gatherings.
During the holidays, it most likely seems like you’re meeting (or re-meeting) a new long-lost relative almost every weekend. That’s the charm (and, some would say, the bane) of the holiday season. Normally, this sort of annual catching up is something that’s easy to look forward to. You get to reunite with everyone and find out what they’re up to!
But those family gatherings might feel less welcoming when you have hearing loss. What’s the reason for this? How will your hearing loss impact you when you’re at family get-togethers?
Your ability to communicate with others can be greatly effected by hearing loss, and also the ability of other people to communicate with you. The resulting feelings of alienation can be especially disheartening and stressful 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
Around the holidays, there’s so much to see, like lights, gifts, food and so much more. But there’s also so much to hear: how your nephew is doing in school, how your cousin’s pick-up basketball team is doing, and on, and on.
During holiday gatherings, use these tips to get through and make more unforgettable moments.
Steer clear of phone calls – use video instead
For friends and family, Zoom video calls can be a great way to keep in touch. If you’re dealing with hearing loss, this is especially true. If you have hearing loss and you want to touch base with loved ones during the holidays, try using video calls instead of traditional phone calls.
Phones present an interesting dilemma when it comes to hearing loss and communication challenges. The voice that comes through the phone speaker can sound garbled and difficult to understand, and that makes what should be a pleasant phone call annoying indeed. With a video call, the audio quality won’t necessarily improve, but you’ll have much 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. If you need help, it’s essential to communicate that! There’s no harm in asking for:
- People to paraphrase and repeat what they said.
- Your friends and family to speak a bit slower.
- Conversations to occur in quieter areas of the gathering (more on this in a bit).
When people are aware that you have hearing loss, they’re less likely to become irritated if you need something repeated more than once. As a result, communication has a tendency to flow a bit easier.
Choose your areas of conversation carefully
During the holidays, there are always subjects of conversation you want to avoid. So you’re careful not to say anything that would offend people, but instead, wait for them to bring up any sensitive subject matter. In a similar way, you should try to cautiously pick areas that are quieter for talking.
Here’s how to deal with it:
- Try to find brightly lit places for this same reason. If there isn’t enough light, you won’t be capable of picking up on context clues or read lips.
- When you choose a place to sit, try to put a wall against your back. That way, at least you won’t have people talking behind you.
- Try to choose an area of the gathering that’s a little bit quieter. Possibly that means moving away from the noisy television or removing yourself from locations of overlapping conversations.
- You’re seeking areas with less commotion. This will put you in a stronger position to read lips more successfully.
Alright, alright, but what if your niece begins talking to you in the loud kitchen, where you’re topping off your mug with hot chocolate? There are a couple of things you can do in cases like these:
- Politely start walking towards an area of the gathering place where you can hear and concentrate better. And remember to make her aware this is what you’re doing.
- You can politely ask the host, if there is music playing, to turn it down so you can hear what your niece is saying.
- Ask your niece to continue the conversation someplace where it’s a little quieter.
Communicate with the flight crew
So how about less obvious effects of hearing loss on holiday plans? Like the ones that sneak up on you.
Lots of people go on planes during the holidays, it’s especially important for families that are fairly spread out. It’s essential that you can understand all of the instructions coming from the flight crew when you fly. Which is why it’s extra crucial to tell the flight crew that you have problems hearing or have hearing loss. That way, the flight crew can provide you with visual instructions if needed. When you’re flying, it’s important that you don’t miss anything!
It can be lots of work trying to communicate when you have hearing loss. You will often find yourself fatigued more frequently than before. As a result, it’s essential to take frequent breaks. By doing this, your ears and your brain will get a break.
Invest in some hearing aids
How does hearing loss impact relationships? Hearing loss has a significant impact on relationships.
Every conversation with your family during the holidays will be benefited by hearing aids and that’s one of the biggest benefits. And no more asking people what they said.
Put simply, hearing aids will help you reconnect with your family.
Remember that it could take you a bit of time to become accustomed to your hearing aids. So don’t wait until just before the holidays to get them. Naturally, everyone’s experience will be different. But we can help you with the timing.
You don’t need to navigate the holidays by yourself
When you have hearing loss, often, it can feel as if no one can relate to what you’re dealing with, and that you have to do it all alone. In this way, it’s kind of like hearing loss affects your personality. But you’re not alone. We can help you navigate many of these challenges.
The holidays don’t need to be a time of worry or nervousness (that is, any more than they normally are). During this holiday season, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing your friends and family. All you need is the correct strategy.