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. That’s the appeal (and, some might say, the curse) of the holiday season. Typically, this kind 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 may feel less welcoming 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 get-togethers?
Hearing loss can hinder your ability to communicate, and with others’ ability to communicate with you. The resulting feelings of alienation can be extremely discouraging and stressful around the holidays. Hearing specialists and professionals have formulated some go-to tips that can help make your holidays more enjoyable, and more fulfilling, when you have hearing loss.
Tips to help you enjoy the holiday season
Around the holidays, there’s so much to see, like decorations, gifts, food and so much more. But there’s also a lot to hear: how your nephew is doing in school, how your cousin’s pond hockey team is doing, and on, and on.
During holiday get-togethers, use these tips to get through and make more unforgettable moments.
Avoid phone calls – instead, use video calls.
Zoom calls can be a fantastic way to stay in touch with friends and family. If you have hearing loss, this is especially true. Try using 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 represent a particular challenge. It can be really difficult to hear the garbled sounding voice at the other end, and that can certainly be aggravating. You won’t get better audio quality from a video call, but you will at least have visual cues to help figure out what’s being said. From body language to facial expressions, video calls offer added context, and that will help the conversation flow better.
Tell people the truth
It’s not uncommon for people to have hearing loss. If you need help, it’s crucial to communicate that! There’s no harm in asking for:
- Conversations to happen in quieter areas of the gathering (more on this in a bit).
- People to repeat what they said, but asking that they rephrase also.
- Your friends and family to speak a little slower.
People won’t be as likely to become annoyed when you ask them to repeat themselves if they are aware that you have hearing loss. As a result, communication tends to flow a little bit smoother.
Find some quiet areas for conversing
You will always want to avoid certain subjects of conversation throughout the holidays. So you’re cautious not to say anything that would offend people, but instead, wait for them to mention any delicate subject matter. When you’re dealing with hearing loss, this even more important, only instead of avoiding certain topics of conversation, you should cautiously steer clear of specific areas in a home which make hearing conversations more difficult.
Handle it like this:
- Attempt to find well lit places for this same reason. If there isn’t sufficient light, you won’t be able to pick up on contextual clues or read lips.
- Attempt to find places that have less activity and fewer people walking by and distracting you. This will put you in a stronger position to read lips more successfully.
- There will be quieter areas in the home where you have conversations. Maybe that means moving away from the noisy television or removing yourself from areas of overlapping conversations.
- Try to sit with a wall behind you. That way, there’ll be less background interference for you to have to filter through.
Okay, okay, but what if your niece starts talking to you in the noisy kitchen, where you’re topping off your mug with holiday cocoa? In cases like this, there are a couple of things you can do:
- Suggest that you and your niece go someplace quieter to talk.
- Politely start walking to an area of the gathering place where you can hear and focus better. Be sure to explain that’s what you’re doing.
- 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.
Communicate with the flight crew
So what about less obvious impacts of hearing loss on holiday plans? You know, the ones you don’t see coming?
Many people go on planes during the holidays, it’s particularly important for families that are pretty spread out. It’s crucial that you can understand all of the guidelines coming from the flight crew when you fly. 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 extra visual guidelines. It’s crucial that you don’t miss anything when flying!
It can be a lot of work trying to communicate with hearing loss. You may find yourself growing more tired or exhausted than you once did. So taking regular breaks is important. By doing this, your ears and your brain will get a rest.
Consider investing in hearing aids
How does hearing loss impact relationships? Hearing loss has a considerable affect on relationships.
Every interaction with your family through the holidays will be benefited by hearing aids and that’s one of the greatest benefits. And no more asking people to repeat themselves.
Put simply, hearing aids will help you reconnect with your family.
Keep in mind that it may take you some time to get used to your hearing aids. So don’t wait until right before the holidays to get them. Of course, everybody’s experience will be different. But we can help you with the timing.
You can get help navigating the holidays
When you have hearing loss, sometimes, it can feel like no one can relate to what you’re dealing with, and that you have to do it all alone. In this way, it’s almost like hearing loss impacts your personality. But there’s help. We can help you get through many of these challenges.
Holidays can be hard enough even under normal circumstances and you don’t want hearing loss to make it even more difficult. With the right strategy, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing, your family during this time of year.