Gatherings. More, and more family gatherings.
During the holiday seasons, it probably seems like you’re meeting (or re-meeting) a new long-lost uncle almost every weekend. The holiday season can be enjoyable (and also challenging) because of this. Typically, this sort of annual catching up is something that’s easy to look forward to. You get to reunite with everybody and find out what they’re up to!
But when you’re dealing with hearing loss, those family get-togethers may feel a little less welcoming. Why is that? How will your hearing loss impact you when you’re at family gatherings?
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 resulting experience of alienation can be extremely discouraging and distressing around the holidays. Your holiday season can be more fulfilling and enjoyable by using a few go-to tips formulated by hearing specialists.
Tips to help you enjoy the holiday season
There’s so much to see around the holidays, lights, food, gifts, and more. But there’s also a lot to hear: how Uncle Bob lost his second finger (what?!), how Julie is doing in school, how Nancy got promoted, it keeps going.
These tips are developed to help make sure you keep experiencing all of those moments of reconnection during the course of holiday get-togethers.
Avoid phone calls – use video instead
For family and friends, Zoom video calls can be a great way to stay in touch. That’s especially true if you have hearing loss. Try using video calls instead of phone calls if you have hearing loss and want to reach out to loved ones throughout the holidays.
Phones present a difficult conundrum with regards to hearing loss and communication difficulties. The voice on the other end can feel muffled and difficult to understand, and that can definitely be frustrating. You won’t have clearer audio quality from a video call, but you will at least have visual clues to help determine what’s being said. From body language to facial expressions, video calls offer added context, and that can help the conversation have a better flow.
Be honest with people
Hearing loss is extremely common. If you need help, it’s important to communicate that! There’s no harm in asking for:
- Conversations to happen in quieter areas of the gathering (more on this in a bit).
- People to slow down a little bit when talking with you.
- People to paraphrase and repeat what they said.
When people are aware that you have hearing loss, they’re less likely to get irritated if you need something repeated more than once. As a result, communication tends to flow a little bit smoother.
Pick your areas of conversation carefully
You will always want to avoid certain topics of conversation throughout the holidays. So you’re careful not to say anything that would offend people, but instead, wait for them to bring up 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 carefully avoid specific areas in a home which make hearing conversations more difficult.
Here’s how to deal with it:
- There will be quieter areas in the home where you have conversations. That could mean moving away from overlapping conversations or getting a little further away from that loud sporting event on the TV.
- You’re seeking spaces with less commotion. This’ll make it easier to concentrate on the lips of the people talking to you (and help you lip read as a result).
- Try to sit with a wall behind you. That way, there’ll be less background interference for you to have to deal with.
- For this reason, keep your conversations in settings that are well-lit. If there isn’t enough light, you won’t be capable of picking up on contextual clues or read lips.
So what if you’re in the noisy kitchen, filling up your cocoa mug, and your niece starts talking to you? In situations like this, there are a couple of things you can do:
- Suggest that you and your niece go someplace quieter to talk.
- 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 lead your niece to a place that has less going on. And don’t forget to let her know this is what you’re doing.
Speak to the flight crew
So how about less apparent impacts of hearing loss on holiday plans? Like the ones that catch you by surprise.
Many people go on planes during the holidays, it’s especially significant for families that are pretty spread out. When you fly, it’s essential to comprehend all the instructions and communication provided by the flight crew. So you need to be certain to tell them about your hearing loss. That way, the flight crew can give you visual instructions if needed. When you’re flying, it’s important that you don’t miss anything!
It can be lots of work trying to communicate when you have hearing loss. You might find yourself growing more fatigued or exhausted than you used to. So taking regular breaks is important. By doing this, your ears and your brain will get a rest.
Consider getting hearing aids
How are relationships impacted by hearing loss? Well, as should be clear by now, in a lot of ways!
Every conversation with your family during the holidays will be benefited by hearing aids and that’s one of the biggest benefits. And no more asking people what they said.
In other words, hearing aids will help you reconnect with your family.
Remember that it may take you some time to become accustomed to your hearing aids. So it’s recommended that you pick them up well in advance of your holiday plans. Of course, everyone’s experience will be different. So talk to us about the timing.
You can get help navigating the holidays
It can feel like you’re alone 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 affects your personality. But there’s help. You can navigate 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 normally are). With the proper strategy, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing, your family during this time of year.