So, so many family get-togethers.
During the holidays, it most likely feels like you’re meeting (or re-meeting) a new long-lost relative almost every weekend. That’s the charm (and, some might say, the curse) of the holiday season. Usually, it’s easy to look forward to this annual catching up. You get to find out what everyone’s been up to all year.
But when you have hearing loss, those family get-togethers might feel a little less welcoming. What’s the reason for this? How will your hearing loss impact you when you’re at family gatherings?
Your ability to communicate with others can be greatly impacted by hearing loss, and also the ability of other people to communicate with you. The result can be a disheartening feeling of alienation, and it’s a particularly distressing sensation when it occurs around the holidays. Hearing specialists and professionals have developed 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 Uncle Bob lost his third finger (what?!), how school is going for Julie, how Nancy got a promotion, it keeps going.
During holiday gatherings, make use of these tips to get through and make more unforgettable memories.
Steer clear of phone calls – use video instead
Zoom calls can be an excellent way to stay in touch with friends and family. If you have hearing loss, this is particularly true. If you have hearing loss and you want to connect with loved ones during the holidays, try using video calls instead of standard phone calls.
Phones present a difficult 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 makes what should be an enjoyable phone call vexing indeed. With a video call, the audio quality won’t actually get better, but you’ll have a lot more information to help you communicate. Conversations will have a better flow on video calls because you can read lips and use facial expressions.
Be honest with people
It isn’t uncommon for people to have hearing loss. It’s important to tell people if you need help. It doesn’t hurt to ask for:
- People to repeat things, but asking that they rephrase also.
- A quieter place to have conversations.
- Your family and friends to talk a bit slower.
People will be less likely to become aggravated when you ask them to repeat themselves if they are aware that you have hearing loss. As a result, communication has a tendency to flow a little smoother.
Pick your areas of conversation carefully
You will always want to steer clear of certain subjects 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 have hearing loss, this even more important, only instead of scooting around certain topics of conversation, you should cautiously steer clear of specific areas in a home which make hearing conversations more challenging.
Here’s how to handle it:
- You’re looking for spaces with less commotion. This’ll make it easier to focus on the lips of the people speaking with you (and help you read lips as a result).
- There will be quieter spots in the home where you have conversations. That may mean removing yourself from overlapping conversations or getting a little further away from that raucous football game on the TV.
- By the same token, keep your conversations in places that are well-lit. If there isn’t enough light, you won’t be capable of picking up on context clues or read lips.
- Try to sit with your back to a wall. That way, at least you won’t have people talking behind you.
Alright, alright, but what if your niece begins talking to you in the noisy 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 an area of the gathering place where you can hear and focus better. Be certain to explain that’s what you’re doing.
- You can politely ask the host, if there is music playing, to turn it down so you can hear what your niece is saying.
- Suggest that you and your niece go somewhere quieter to chat.
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?
Many people fly around during the holidays, it’s particularly important for families that are fairly spread out. It’s essential that you can understand all of the directions coming from the flight crew when you fly. Which is why it’s extra crucial to tell the flight crew that you have trouble hearing or experience hearing loss. That way, the flight crew can offer you visual instructions if needed. When you’re flying, it’s important not to miss anything!
When you are dealing with hearing loss, communicating can become a lot of work. You will frequently find yourself fatigued more frequently than you used to. As a result, it’s important to take regular breaks. By doing this, your ears and your brain can get a rest.
Get some hearing aids
How does hearing loss affect relationships? 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 over the holidays smoother and more satisfying. And no more asking people to repeat themselves.
Hearing aids will allow you to reconnect with your family, in other words.
Remember that it could take you some time to get used to your hearing aids. So it’s recommended that you get them well in advance of your holiday plans. Naturally, everybody’s experience will be different. So speak with us about the timing.
You can get help navigating the holidays
It can feel like you’re by yourself sometimes, and that no one can relate to what you’re going through when you have hearing loss. In this way, it’s kind of like hearing loss impacts your personality. But there’s help. We can help you get through many of these dilemmas.
The holidays don’t have to be a time of worry or anxiety (that is, any more than they typically are). With the proper approach, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing, your family during this time of year.