So, so many family celebrations.
During the holidays, it most likely feels like you’re meeting (or re-meeting) a new long-lost uncle almost every weekend. The holiday season can be enjoyable (and also difficult) for this reason. Normally, this sort of annual catching up is something that’s easy to anticipate. 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? What are the effects of hearing loss at family get-togethers?
Hearing loss can hinder your ability to communicate, and with other people’s ability to communicate with you. The resulting experience of alienation can be particularly disheartening and stressful 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 so much to see around 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, use these tips to get through and make more unforgettable moments.
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. Try utilizing video calls instead of phone calls if you have hearing loss and want to touch base with loved ones throughout the holidays.
Phones represent an interesting dilemma with regards to hearing loss and communication difficulties. It can be very difficult to hear the muffled sounding voice at the other end, and that can definitely be frustrating. With a video call, the audio quality won’t actually get better, but you’ll have a lot more information to help you communicate. From body language to facial expressions, video calls offer additional context, and that can help the conversation flow better.
Be honest with people
It isn’t uncommon for people to have hearing loss. It’s essential to let people know if you need help. There’s no harm in asking for:
- A quieter place to talk.
- People to slow down a little bit when talking with you.
- People to paraphrase and repeat what they said.
When people know that you have hearing loss, they’re less likely to get annoyed if you need something repeated more than once. Communication will flow better as a result.
Select your locations of conversation wisely
During the holidays, there are always topics of conversation you want to avoid. So you’re cautious not to say anything that might offend people, but instead, wait for them to talk about any sensitive subject matter. When you have hearing loss, this goes double, only instead of scooting around certain topics of conversation, you should cautiously steer clear of specific places in a home which make hearing conversations more difficult.
Handle it like this:
- Attempt to find places that have less motion and fewer people walking by and distracting you. This will put you in a better position to read lips more effectively.
- Try to sit with a wall behind you. That way, at least there won’t be people talking behind you.
- There will be quieter areas in the home where you have conversations. Possibly that means moving away from the noisy furnace or excusing yourself from areas of overlapping conversations.
- By the same token, keep your conversations in settings that are well-lit. Contextual clues, like body language and facial expressions, can get lost in darker spaces.
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? There are a few things you can do in situations like these:
- You can politely ask the host, if there is music playing, to reduce the volume so you can hear what your niece is saying.
- Quietly lead your niece to a spot that has less happening. And remember to let her know this is what you’re doing.
- Ask your niece to continue the conversation someplace where it’s a bit quieter.
Communicate with the flight crew
So how about less obvious impacts of hearing loss on holiday plans? Like the ones that catch you by surprise.
Lots of people fly around during the holidays, it’s particularly essential for families that are fairly spread out. It’s crucial that you can understand all of the guidelines coming from the flight crew when you fly. Which is why it’s really significant to tell the flight crew that you have trouble hearing or experience hearing loss. This way, if necessary, the flight crew can take extra care to give you extra visual instructions. It’s important that you don’t miss anything when flying!
It can be lots of work trying to communicate with hearing loss. You will often find yourself exhausted more often than before. As a result, it’s important to take regular breaks. This will give your ears, and, perhaps more significantly, your brain, some time to catch a breath.
Invest in some hearing aids
How are relationships impacted by hearing loss? Hearing loss has a considerable affect on relationships.
One of the major benefits of hearing aids is that they will make almost every interaction with your family through the holidays easier and more fulfilling. And no more asking people what they said.
In other words, hearing aids will help you reconnect with your family.
It may take a little time to adjust to your new hearing aids. So don’t wait until right before the holidays to pick them up. Everybody will have a different experience. So speak with us about the timing.
You don’t need to navigate the holidays alone
When you have hearing loss, sometimes, it can feel as if nobody can relate to what you’re going through, and that you have to do it all alone. In this way, it’s kind of like hearing loss affects your personality. But you’re not alone. You can get through many of the difficulties with our help.
The holidays don’t need to be a time of trepidation or nervousness (that is, any more than they usually are). With the right approach, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing, your family around this time of year.