Gatherings. So many family gatherings.
It likely 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 difficult) because of this. Usually, it’s easy to look forward to this annual catching up. You get to find out what everybody’s been up to all year.
But those family gatherings may feel less welcoming when you have hearing loss. Why is that? How will your hearing loss affect you when you’re at family get-togethers?
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 result can be a discouraging feeling of alienation, and it’s a particularly distressing sensation when it happens during the holidays. Hearing specialists and professionals have developed some go-to tips that can help make your holidays more enjoyable, and more rewarding, when you have hearing loss.
Tips to help you enjoy the holiday season
During the holidays, there’s so much to see, like lights, 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, use these tips to get through and make more memorable memories.
Use video chat instead of phone calls
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 during the holidays, try using video calls instead of traditional phone calls.
Phones represent an interesting conundrum when it comes to hearing loss and communication challenges. The voice that comes through the phone speaker can sound garbled and hard to understand, and that can certainly be aggravating. With a video call, the audio quality won’t necessarily get better, but you’ll have a lot 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. It’s important to let people know if you need help. It doesn’t hurt to ask for:
- A quieter place to talk.
- People to paraphrase and repeat what they said.
- People to slow down a little bit when talking with you.
When people know that you’re dealing with hearing loss, they’re less likely to become aggravated if you need something repeated more than once. Communication will flow better as a result.
Find some quiet spaces for conversing
Throughout the holidays, there are always topics of conversation you want to steer clear of. So, you’re strategic, you don’t just mention touchy subjects about people, you wait for those people to bring it up. When you have hearing loss, this goes double, only instead of avoiding certain topics of conversation, you should cautiously steer clear of specific areas in a home which make hearing conversations more challenging.
Handle it like this:
- Try to find spots that have less activity and fewer people going by and distracting you. This’ll make it easier to concentrate on the lips of the people talking to you (and help you read lips as a result).
- Try to find brightly lit spots for this same reason. Contextual clues, like body language and facial expressions, can get lost in darker spaces.
- Try to sit with a wall behind you. That way, there’ll be less background interference for you to have to filter through.
- There will be quieter spots in the home where you have conversations. That may mean moving away from overlapping conversations or getting a little further away from that loud sporting event on the TV.
Okay, okay, but what if your niece begins talking to you in the loud kitchen, where you’re topping off your mug with holiday cocoa? There are a couple of things you can do in situations like these:
- Ask your niece to carry on 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.
- Politely start walking to a spot where you can hear and focus better. Be sure to explain that’s what you’re doing.
Speak to the flight crew
So what about less obvious effects of hearing loss on holiday plans? Like the ones that sneak up on you.
When families are spread out, lots of people need to fly somewhere. It’s crucial that you can understand all of the directions coming from the flight crew when you fly. Which is why it’s really important to tell the flight crew that you have problems hearing or have hearing loss. This way, if needed, the flight crew can take extra care to give you additional visual guidelines. When you’re flying, it’s important not to miss anything!
It can be lots of work trying to communicate when you have hearing loss. You will often find yourself fatigued more often than before. This means that it’s important to take frequent breaks. This will give your ears, and, maybe more importantly, your brain, some time to catch a breath.
Get some hearing aids
How are relationships impacted by hearing loss? Hearing loss has a significant impact on relationships.
Every interaction with your family over the holidays will be enhanced by hearing aids and that’s one of the biggest benefits. And, the greatest part, you won’t have to continue to ask people to repeat what they said.
Hearing aids will allow you to reconnect with your family, in other words.
It could take a little time to adjust to your new hearing aids. So it’s advisable that you pick them up well in advance of your holiday plans. Of course, everyone’s experience will differ. So talk to us about the timing.
You don’t have to get through the holidays alone
It can seem as if you’re by yourself sometimes, and that nobody can relate to what you’re going through when you have hearing loss. In this way, it’s kind of like hearing loss affects your personality. But there’s help. We can help you get through many of these dilemmas.
The holidays don’t need to be a time of trepidation or anxiety (that is, any more than they typically are). With the correct strategy, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing, your family during this time of year.