Gatherings. So many family gatherings.
During the holidays, it most likely feels like you’re meeting (or re-meeting) a new long-lost uncle every other weekend. The holiday season can be fun (and also difficult) because of this. Typically, this sort of yearly catching up is something that’s pleasing to anticipate. You get to check in on everyone and see what they’re up to!
But those family get-togethers may feel less welcoming when you’re dealing with hearing loss. Why is that? How will your hearing loss impact you when you’re at family get-togethers?
Hearing loss can impede your ability to communicate, and with other people’s ability to communicate with you. The resulting feelings of alienation can be especially disheartening and distressing around the holidays. Hearing specialists and professionals have formulated some go-to tips that can help make your holidays more pleasant, and more fulfilling, when you have hearing loss.
Tips to help you enjoy the holiday season
There’s a lot to see during the holidays, lights, food, gifts, and 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 pond hockey team is doing, and on, and on.
During holiday get-togethers, make use of these tips to get through and make more memorable memories.
Use video chat instead of phone calls
For friends and family, Zoom video calls can be a good way to stay in touch. That’s particularly 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 traditional phone calls.
While trying to communicate with hearing loss, phones represent a particular obstacle. It can be really difficult to hear the garbled sounding voice at the other end, and that can definitely be frustrating. With a video call, the audio quality won’t actually improve, but you’ll have much more information to help you communicate. From body language to facial expressions, video calls provide added context, and that will help the conversation flow better.
Be honest with people
It’s not uncommon for people to suffer from hearing loss. It’s essential to let people know if you need help. There’s no harm in asking for:
- People to slow down a little when speaking with you.
- A quieter place to have conversations.
- People to repeat what they said, but requesting that they rephrase also.
People will be less likely to become aggravated 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.
Choose your areas of conversation wisely
Throughout the holidays, there are always subjects of conversation you want to avoid. So you’re careful not to say anything that would offend people, but instead, wait for them to talk about any sensitive subject matter. When you’re dealing with hearing loss, this even more important, only instead of avoiding certain topics of conversation, you should cautiously avoid specific spaces in a home which make hearing conversations more challenging.
Here’s how to handle it:
- Try to find brightly lit spots for this same reason. If there isn’t adequate light, you won’t be able to pick up on contextual clues or read lips.
- When you find 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 areas 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.
- Try to find an area of the gathering that’s a little quieter. That could mean removing yourself from overlapping conversations or getting a little further away from that raucous football game on the TV.
Alright, alright, but what if your niece begins talking to you in the loud kitchen, where you’re topping off your mug with hot chocolate? In cases like this, there are a couple of things you can do:
- Politely begin walking to a spot where you can hear and concentrate better. And remember to let her know this is what you’re doing.
- You can politely ask the host, if there is music playing, to reduce the volume so you can hear what your niece is saying.
- Suggest that you and your niece go someplace quieter to chat.
Communicate with the flight crew
So how about less obvious effects of hearing loss on holiday plans? Like the ones that sneak up on you.
Lots of people fly around during the holidays, it’s especially essential for families that are pretty spread out. When you fly, it’s crucial to understand all the directions and communication provided by the flight crew. So you need to be certain to tell them about your 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 that you don’t miss anything!
When you are dealing with hearing loss, communicating can be a lot of effort. You might find yourself getting more tired or exhausted than you used to. This means that it’s important to take frequent breaks. By doing this, your ears and your brain can get a rest.
Invest in some hearing aids
How does hearing loss affect relationships? Hearing loss has a significant affect on relationships.
One of the major advantages of hearing aids is that they will make nearly every interaction with your family through the holidays smoother 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.
Keep in mind that it may take you a bit of time to get used to your hearing aids. So don’t wait until just before the holidays to pick them up. Everyone will have a different experience. 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 no one understands what you’re going through when you have hearing loss. In this way, it’s kind of like hearing loss impacts your personality. But you’re not alone. You can get through many of the challenges with our help.
The holidays don’t have to be a time of worry or anxiety (that is, any more than they normally are). With the right approach, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing, your family around this time of year.