So, so many family get-togethers.
During the holidays, it most likely seems like you’re meeting (or re-meeting) a new long-lost relative almost every weekend. The holiday season can be fun (and also difficult) for this reason. Typically, this type of annual catching up is something that’s easy to anticipate. You get to learn what everybody’s been doing all year.
But those family gatherings might feel less inviting when you’re dealing with hearing loss. What’s the reason for this? What are the effects of hearing loss at family gatherings?
Your ability to communicate with others can be significantly impacted by hearing loss, and also the ability of other people to communicate with you. The resulting feelings of alienation can be especially disheartening and distressing around the holidays. Hearing specialists and professionals have developed 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
During the holidays, there’s so much to see, like decorations, gifts, food and so much more. But there are not only things to see, but also things 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, make use of these tips to get through and make more unforgettable moments.
Steer clear of phone calls – use video instead
For family and friends, Zoom video calls can be a good way to stay in touch. That’s especially true if you have hearing loss. If you have hearing loss and you want to connect with loved ones over the holidays, try using video calls instead of standard phone calls.
While trying to communicate with hearing loss, phones present a particular obstacle. It can be really hard to hear the garbled sounding voice at the other end, and that can definitely be aggravating. With a video call, the audio quality won’t actually get better, but you’ll have much more information to help you communicate. From body language to facial expressions, video calls supply added context, and that can help the conversation flow better.
Be honest with people
It’s not uncommon for people to suffer from hearing loss. If you need help, it’s essential to communicate that! There’s no harm in asking for:
- People to repeat things, but requesting that they rephrase also.
- People to slow down a little bit when talking with you.
- Conversations to happen in quieter areas of the gathering (more on this in a bit).
People won’t be as likely to become irritated when you ask them to repeat themselves if they are aware that you have hearing loss. Communication will have a better flow as a result.
Pick your areas of conversation wisely
You will always want to avoid certain topics of conversation during the holidays. So you’re careful not to say anything that might offend people, but instead, wait for them to talk about any delicate subject matter. When you’re dealing with hearing loss, this goes double, only instead of avoiding certain topics of conversation, you should carefully steer clear of specific spaces in a home which make hearing conversations more challenging.
Here’s how to deal with it:
- Try to find well lit spots for this same reason. Contextual clues, like body language and facial expressions, can get lost in dimly lit spaces.
- Attempt to find places that have less activity and fewer people walking by and distracting you. This will put you in a better position to read lips more effectively.
- When you choose a spot to sit, try to put a wall against your back. That way, there’ll be less background interference for you to have to filter through.
- Try to find an area of the gathering that’s a little bit quieter. Maybe that means sneaking away from the noisy furnace or excusing yourself from locations of overlapping conversations.
So what if you’re in the noisy kitchen, filling up your cocoa mug, and your niece starts talking to you? In cases like this, there are a couple of things you can do:
- Suggest that you and your niece go someplace quieter to chat.
- 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.
- Politely begin walking towards a spot where you can hear and focus better. And remember to let her know this is what you’re doing.
Speak to the flight crew
So how about less obvious effects of hearing loss on holiday plans? You know, the ones you may not see coming?
When families are spread out, many people have to fly somewhere. It’s important that you can comprehend all of the directions coming from the flight crew when you fly. So you need to be sure to let them know about your hearing loss. That way, the flight crew can give you visual instructions if necessary. It’s essential that you don’t miss anything when flying!
When you are dealing with hearing loss, communicating can become a lot of work. You might find yourself getting more tired or exhausted than you once did. This means that it’s important to take regular breaks. This will give your ears, and, perhaps more significantly, your brain, some time to catch a breath.
Consider investing in hearing aids
How does hearing loss affect relationships? Well, as should be clear by now, in many ways!
One of the greatest advantages of hearing aids is that they will make almost every interaction with your family through the holidays easier and more satisfying. And, the greatest part, you won’t have to continue to ask people to repeat what they said.
Hearing aids will let you reconnect with your family, in other words.
Remember that it might 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 differ. So speak with us about the timing.
You can get help navigating the holidays
It can seem as if you’re by yourself sometimes, and that nobody understands what you’re dealing with when you have hearing loss. In this way, it’s kind of like hearing loss affects your personality. But you’re not alone. You can navigate many of the challenges with our help.
The holidays don’t need to be a time of trepidation or anxiety (that is, any more than they usually are). During this holiday season, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing your family and friends. All you need is the right strategy.