Gatherings. So many family gatherings.
During the holiday seasons, it probably feels like you’re meeting (or re-meeting) a new long-lost uncle every other weekend. The holiday season can be fun (and also challenging) because of this. Typically, this sort of yearly catching up is something that’s easy to look forward to. You get to learn what everyone’s been doing all year.
But those family gatherings may feel less inviting when you’re dealing with hearing loss. What’s the reason for this? How will your hearing loss affect you when you’re at family get-togethers?
Hearing loss can interfere with your ability to communicate, and with others’ ability to communicate with you. The resulting experience of alienation can be extremely discouraging and stressful around the holidays. Hearing specialists and professionals have developed some go-to tips that can help make your holidays more enjoyable, and more fulfilling, when you have hearing loss.
Tips to help you enjoy the holiday season
Around the holidays, there’s so much to see, like decorations, gifts, food and so much more. But there’s also a lot to hear: how Uncle Bob lost his second finger (what?!), how school is going for Julie, how Nancy got a promotion, it keeps going.
During holiday gatherings, use these tips to get through and make more memorable moments.
Avoid phone calls – instead, use video calls.
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. If you have hearing loss and you want to touch base with loved ones over the holidays, try using video calls instead of standard phone calls.
Phones present a difficult conundrum when it comes to hearing loss and communication difficulties. It can be very hard to hear the muffled sounding voice on the other end, and that can definitely be aggravating. With a video call, the audio quality won’t necessarily improve, but you’ll have much more information to help you communicate. From body language to facial expressions, video calls supply additional context, and that can help the conversation have a better flow.
Tell people the truth
Hearing loss is extremely common. It’s important to let people know if you need help. There’s no harm in asking for:
- Your friends and family to talk a little slower.
- People to paraphrase and repeat what they said.
- Conversations to take place in quieter areas of the gathering (more on this in a bit).
When people know that you’re dealing with hearing loss, they’re less likely to get annoyed if you need something repeated more than once. Communication will have a better flow as a result.
Pick your areas of conversation carefully
You will always want to avoid 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 mention any sensitive subject matter. When you’re dealing with hearing loss, this even more important, only instead of scooting around certain topics of conversation, you should carefully steer clear of specific places in a home which make hearing conversations more difficult.
deal with it like this:
- There will be quieter spots in the home where you have conversations. Possibly that means moving away from the noisy television or excusing yourself from locations of overlapping conversations.
- Try to sit with your back to a wall. That way, there’ll be less background interference for you to have to deal with.
- You’re seeking areas with less commotion. This will put you in a stronger position to read lips more effectively.
- For this reason, keep your discussions in places that are well-lit. Contextual clues, including body language and facial expressions, can get lost in darker spaces.
Okay, okay, but what if your niece begins talking to you in the noisy kitchen, where you’re filling your mug with hot chocolate? In cases like this, there are a couple of things you can do:
- Ask your niece to continue the conversation someplace where it’s a little quieter.
- 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 direct your niece to a spot that has less going on. And remember to make her aware this is what you’re doing.
Communicate with the flight crew
So, you’re thinking: what are the impacts of hearing loss at family get-togethers that are less apparent? You know, the ones you don’t see coming?
When families are spread out, many people need to fly somewhere. When you fly, it’s crucial to understand all the directions and communication provided by the flight crew. Which is why it’s really crucial to tell the flight crew that you have problems hearing or experience hearing loss. This way, if needed, the flight crew can take extra care to give you additional visual instructions. It’s essential that you don’t miss anything when flying!
It can be a lot of work trying to communicate when you have hearing loss. You will frequently find yourself exhausted more frequently than before. So taking regular breaks is essential. This will give your ears, and, perhaps more significantly, your brain, a little bit of time to catch a breath.
Get some hearing aids
How are relationships impacted by hearing loss? Well, as should be clear at this point, in many ways!
Every conversation with your family through the holidays will be enhanced by hearing aids and that’s one of the biggest benefits. And no more asking people to repeat themselves.
In other words, hearing aids will help you reconnect with your family.
It may take some time to get used to your new hearing aids. So it’s advisable that you pick them up well in advance of your holiday plans. Of course, everybody’s experience will be different. So speak with us about the timing.
You don’t have to get through the holidays by yourself
When you have hearing loss, often, it can feel like nobody can relate to what you’re dealing with, and that you have to do it all alone. It’s as if hearing loss is affecting your personality in this way. But you’re not alone. You can get through many of the challenges with our help.
The holidays don’t need to be a time of trepidation or anxiety (that is, any more than they normally are). With the correct strategy, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing, your family during this time of year.