So, so many family celebrations.
It probably feels like you’re meeting or reuniting with every relative you have, every weekend, during the holidays. The holiday season can be fun (and also challenging) because of this. Usually, this sort of yearly catching up is something that’s pleasing to anticipate. 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 might feel a little less inviting. Why is that? What are the effects of hearing loss 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 end result can be a discouraging feeling of alienation, and it’s a particularly distressing experience when it happens around the holidays. Hearing specialists and professionals have developed some go-to tips that can help make your holidays more pleasant, and more rewarding, when you have hearing loss.
Tips to help you enjoy the holiday season
Around the holidays, there’s so much to see, like lights, gifts, food and so much 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 pick-up basketball team is doing, and on, and on.
During holiday get-togethers, make use of these tips to get through and make more memorable moments.
Steer clear of phone calls – use video instead
Zoom calls can be an excellent way to keep 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.
While trying to communicate with hearing loss, phones present a particular obstacle. The voice on the other end can feel garbled and difficult to understand, and that makes what should be an enjoyable phone call annoying indeed. 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 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 crucial to let people know if you need help. There’s no harm in asking for:
- Your friends and family to talk a bit slower.
- People to repeat things, but asking that they rephrase as well.
- Conversations to take place in quieter areas of the get-together (more on this in a bit).
People will be less likely to become irritated when you ask them to repeat themselves if they understand that you have hearing loss. Communication will flow better as a result.
Choose your areas of conversation carefully
You will always want to steer clear of certain topics 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 delicate subject matter. When you have hearing loss, this even more important, only instead of scooting around certain topics of conversation, you should carefully avoid specific spaces in a home which make hearing conversations more challenging.
Here’s how to deal with it:
- When you find a spot to sit, try to put a back to a wall. That way, at least there won’t be people talking behind you.
- Attempt to find areas that have less motion and fewer people going by and distracting you. This’ll make it easier to focus on the lips of the people speaking with you (and help you read lips as a result).
- Try to pick an area of the gathering that’s a little quieter. That could mean moving away from overlapping conversations or getting a little further away from that raucous sporting event on the TV.
- Attempt to find brightly lit places for this same reason. Contextual clues, such as body language and facial expressions, can get lost in dimly lit spaces.
So what if you’re in the noisy kitchen, filling up your cocoa mug, and your niece begins talking to you? In cases like this, there are a couple of things you can do:
- Suggest that you and your niece go someplace quieter to chat.
- If there’s music playing in the area, politely ask the host to turn the music down so you can hear your niece a little better.
- Quietly direct your niece to a place that has less going on. Be sure to mention that’s what you’re doing.
Speak to the flight crew
So how about less obvious impacts of hearing loss on holiday plans? You know, the ones you may not see coming?
Many people go on planes during the holidays, it’s particularly important for families that are fairly spread out. When you fly, it’s crucial to understand all the instructions and communication coming from the flight crew. So you need to be sure to let them know about your hearing loss. That way, the flight crew can offer you visual instructions if needed. It’s essential that you don’t miss anything when flying!
When you are dealing with hearing loss, communication can be a lot of effort. You may find yourself getting more fatigued or exhausted than you once did. This means that it’s important to take frequent breaks. This will give your ears, and, perhaps more significantly, your brain, some time to catch a breath.
Consider investing in hearing aids
How does hearing loss impact 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 rewarding. And, the best part, you won’t have to keep asking people to repeat themselves.
Put simply, hearing aids will help you reconnect with your family.
It may take some time to adjust to your new hearing aids. So it’s advisable that you get them well in advance of your holiday plans. Naturally, everybody’s experience will differ. So speak with us about the timing.
You don’t have to navigate the holidays alone
When you have hearing loss, often, it can feel like nobody can relate to what you’re going through, and that you have to do it all by yourself. In this way, it’s kind of like hearing loss impacts your personality. But you’re not alone. We can help you navigate many of these challenges.
The holidays don’t need to be a time of trepidation or nervousness (that is, any more than they typically are). With the proper approach, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing, your family around this time of year.