Woman with hearing loss feeling isolated during holidays.

Besides turkey, what do you think about when someone talks about Thanksgiving? Do you start days before, cooking and preparing with the family? Will you catch up with each other as you follow grandma’s famous homemade pecan pie recipe? It’s warm and relaxing because you are together, and a delicious aroma is wafting from the oven. As the family laughs about your son’s latest dating adventure or watch the grandkids laugh and put on a holiday play, will you be laughing with them? Or are you fighting to hear what everyone is talking about?

Hearing loss doesn’t need to define the holiday season for you. From talking over drinks at the company party to hearing the salesperson over the loud holiday shoppers, you can take charge of how you experience the holidays this season. You don’t have to be held hostage by hearing loss. Consider how to get the most out of your holiday in spite of your loss of hearing. Here are some recommendations.

At Holiday Gatherings

For anyone who has loss of hearing, parties may be the biggest challenge. To make the experience less stressful, here are some suggestions:

  • Your expectations have to be managed. There’s no point walking into a party and expecting everything to be perfect. Things will be more challenging due to your hearing loss. Just tackle it with a sense of humor and don’t allow the challenges to cause you stress.
  • Stand with your back to the wall. It can help stop some of the background noise.
  • Step out of the room every now and then. It will allow your brain to have an opportunity to a rest.
  • Perhaps there is a quiet area in the room with better acoustics where you can go.
  • If listening to a speech, encourage friends to pass you notes rather than trying to whisper in your ear.
  • Pay attention to the visual clues. When someone is looking right at you, they are probably speaking to you. Tell them that you didn’t hear what they said.
  • Enlist a hearing buddy, a friend who sits with you who can repeat key things you might have missed.
  • If there are any speakers which might interfere with your hearing aids, move away from them. Don’t be afraid to ask the host to turn the music down so you can hear better.
  • Ask for a seat at the middle of the table so you don’t feel as isolated.
  • Provide some visual cues of your own. Something as simple as cupping your hand behind your ear can let someone know you’re having difficulty hearing without you needing to tell someone.

Travel Tips

Don’t permit the obstacles of hearing loss to get in the way of your travels. Here are some tips to help make your holiday travels go smoothly.

Taking The Train or Flying

It can be hard to hear the announcements over the intercom if you are going on a plane or taking a train. If you want to make the trip easier there are some things you can do. Finding out if the airport or train station offers any special services for the hearing impaired is step one. There may be an app you can get on your phone that shows vital info or visual signs that show oral announcements. They might even offer a sign language interpreter or priority boarding. If being close enough to lip read or ask questions is important, you can request priority seating. They might also offer to bring you through a select line in security, too. You won’t know what is possible until you ask, but do it a few weeks before you go.

When you board, be certain the attendants know you have hearing loss. That way they will know to tap you on the shoulder if you don’t answer when they ask you about a drink.

Lodging Tips

If you are staying at a hotel, make them aware you are hearing impaired when you set your reservation. Lots of resorts have rooms or devices available for those with hearing loss including vibrating alarm clocks and phones which flash lights instead of ringing. Some spots have fire alarms that flash the lights, too, to improve your safety while you stay with them.

What Hearing Aid Essentials to Pack

If this is your first trip with your hearing aids, you might not be sure what you need to bring with you. Some fundamentals to pack include:

  • A cleaning kit
  • Additional accessories
  • Extra batteries or a second charger

As you pass security wear your hearing aids. You are not expected to take them out. Also, during a flight, you can leave them in.

And if you don’t already own hearing aids, perhaps it’s time. In the latest hearing aids, there are functions that will eliminate background noise, enhance conversation while amplifying sound. The holidays are a once a year celebration. There is no reason the holidays can’t be all that you remember whether you’ve always had hearing loss or if it’s more recent. Make an appointment with your hearing care professional to learn what your hearing solutions are.

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