Gatherings. So many family gatherings.
It probably feels like you’re meeting or reuniting with every relative you have, every weekend, during the holidays. The holiday season can be enjoyable (and also challenging) because of this. Normally, this type of yearly catching up is something that’s easy to look forward to. You get to find out what everyone’s been doing all year.
But when you have hearing loss, those family gatherings may seem a little less inviting. What’s the reason for this? What are the effects of hearing loss at family gatherings?
Your ability to communicate with others can be seriously impacted by hearing loss, and also the ability of other people to communicate with you. The resulting feelings of alienation can be extremely discouraging and distressing around the holidays. Your holiday season can be more rewarding and pleasant by using a few go-to tips formulated by hearing specialists.
Tips to help you enjoy the holiday season
There’s lots to see around the holidays, lights, food, gifts, and more. But there are not only things to see, but also things to hear: how Uncle Bob lost his second finger (what?!), how school is going for Julie, how Nancy got promoted, it keeps going.
These tips are designed to help be certain that you keep having all of those moments of reconnection during the course of holiday get-togethers.
Avoid phone calls – use video instead
Zoom calls can be a fantastic way to keep in touch with friends and family. If you’re dealing with 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 throughout the holidays.
While trying to communicate with hearing loss, phones present a particular obstacle. The voice that comes through the phone speaker can feel garbled and hard 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. From body language to facial expressions, video calls provide additional context, and that will 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 crucial to communicate that! It doesn’t hurt to ask for:
- People to paraphrase and repeat what they said.
- A quieter place to talk.
- Your friends and family to speak a little slower.
When people are aware that you have hearing loss, they’re not as likely to get irritated if you need something repeated more than once. As a result, communication has a tendency to flow a bit smoother.
Find some quiet spaces for talking
Throughout the holidays, there are always subjects of conversation you want to steer clear of. So you’re careful not to say anything that would offend people, but instead, wait for them to mention any delicate subject matter. In a similar way, you should try to carefully pick areas that are quieter for talking.
Here’s how to handle it:
- You’re looking for spaces with less commotion. This’ll make it easier to concentrate on the lips of the people speaking with you (and help you lip read as a result).
- When you choose a spot to sit, try to put a wall against your back. That way, there’ll be less background noise for you to have to deal with.
- For this reason, keep your discussions in settings that are well-lit. If there isn’t sufficient light, you won’t be capable of picking up on context clues or read lips.
- 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 areas of overlapping conversations.
So what if you’re in the noisy kitchen, filling up your mug of hot chocolate, and your niece starts talking to you? In cases like this, there are a couple of things you can do:
- Ask your niece to continue the conversation somewhere where it’s a little quieter.
- You can politely ask the host, if there’s music playing, to reduce the volume so you can hear what your niece is saying.
- Quietly direct your niece to a place that has less happening. And don’t forget to let her know this is what you’re doing.
Communicate with the flight crew
So how about less apparent impacts 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. When you fly, it’s crucial to understand all the directions and communication coming from the flight crew. Which is why it’s extra important to tell the flight crew that you have trouble hearing or experience hearing loss. This way, if needed, the flight crew can take extra care to give you extra visual guidelines. When you’re flying, it’s essential not to miss anything!
It can be a lot of work trying to communicate when you have hearing loss. You will often find yourself exhausted more frequently than you used to. This means that it’s essential to take frequent breaks. This will give your ears, and, perhaps more importantly, your brain, a little bit of time to catch a breath.
Invest in some hearing aids
How are relationships impacted by hearing loss? Hearing loss has a significant impact on relationships.
Every conversation with your family over the holidays will be enhanced by hearing aids and that’s one of the greatest benefits. And no more asking people to repeat themselves.
Hearing aids will let you reconnect with your family, in other words.
It may take some time to get used to your new hearing aids. So it’s recommended that you pick them up well in advance of your holiday plans. Everyone will have a different experience. So talk to us about the timing.
You can get help getting through the holidays
When you have hearing loss, often, it can feel like nobody understands what you’re going through, and that you have to do it all by yourself. 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 dilemmas.
Holidays can be difficult enough even under normal circumstances and you don’t want hearing loss to make it even harder. At this time of year, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing your family and friends. All you need is the right approach.