Gatherings. More, and more family gatherings.
It likely feels like you’re meeting or reuniting with every relative you have, every weekend, during the holidays. That’s the charm (and, some would 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 gatherings may feel a little less inviting. What’s the reason for this? How will your hearing loss impact you when you’re at family get-togethers?
Hearing loss can hinder your ability to communicate, and with other people’s ability to communicate with you. The end result can be a disheartening feeling of alienation, and it’s a particularly distressing experience when it occurs around the holidays. Hearing specialists and professionals have developed some go-to tips that can help make your holidays more enjoyable, 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 gatherings, make use of these tips to get through and make more memorable moments.
Steer clear of phone calls – use video instead
For family and friends, Zoom video calls can be a fantastic way to stay in touch. If you have hearing loss, this is especially true. Try using video calls instead of phone calls if you have hearing loss and want to reach out to loved ones during the holidays.
Phones present an interesting conundrum with regards to hearing loss and communication difficulties. The voice on the other end can feel garbled and difficult to understand, and that can certainly be frustrating. 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 supply added context, and that will help the conversation flow better.
Tell people the truth
Hearing loss is incredibly common. It’s important to let people know if you need help. It doesn’t hurt to ask for:
- People to slow down a little bit when talking with you.
- Conversations to occur in quieter areas of the gathering (more on this in a bit).
- People to repeat what they said, but requesting that they rephrase too.
When people recognize that you have hearing loss, they’re not as likely to become irritated if you need something repeated more than once. Communication will flow better as a result.
Find some quiet spaces for talking
You will always want to avoid certain subjects of conversation throughout the holidays. So, you’re strategic, you don’t just mention sensitive subjects about people, you wait for those individuals to mention it. When you have hearing loss, this goes double, only instead of avoiding certain topics of conversation, you should cautiously avoid specific areas in a home which make hearing conversations more challenging.
Here’s how to deal with it:
- Attempt to find well lit spots for this same reason. Contextual clues, like body language and facial expressions, can get lost in dimly lit spaces.
- Try 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.
- There will be quieter spots in the home where you have conversations. That could mean moving away from overlapping conversations or getting a bit further away from that loud sporting event on the TV.
- Try to sit with a wall behind you. That way, there’ll be less background interference for you to have to filter through.
So what if you’re in the noisy kitchen, filling up your cocoa mug, and your niece begins talking to you? There are a couple of things you can do in cases like these:
- 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.
- Suggest that you and your niece go somewhere quieter to chat.
- Quietly direct your niece to a spot that has less going on. Be certain to explain that’s what you’re doing.
Communicate with the flight crew
So how about less apparent impacts of hearing loss on holiday plans? You know, the ones you may not see coming?
Lots of people go on planes during the holidays, it’s especially significant for families that are pretty spread out. It’s essential that you can comprehend all of the guidelines coming from the flight crew when you fly. So you need to be sure to let them know about your hearing loss. This way, if needed, the flight crew can take extra care to provide you with additional visual instructions. When you’re flying, it’s essential that you don’t miss anything!
When you have hearing loss, communicating can be a lot of work. You may find yourself growing more tired or exhausted than you once did. As a result, it’s essential to take regular breaks. This will give your ears, and, maybe more importantly, your brain, a little bit of time to catch a breath.
Invest in some 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 almost every interaction with your family over the holidays smoother and more rewarding. And no more asking people to repeat themselves.
Hearing aids will let you reconnect with your family, in other words.
Keep in mind that it may take you a bit of time to become accustomed to your hearing aids. So it’s advisable that you get them well in advance of your holiday plans. Everyone will have a different experience. So talk to us about the timing.
You can get help navigating the holidays
It can feel as if you’re by yourself sometimes, and that nobody can relate to what you’re going through when you have hearing loss. In this way, it’s almost like hearing loss impacts your personality. But you’re not alone. We can help you navigate many of these dilemmas.
Holidays can be tough enough even under normal circumstances and you don’t need hearing loss to make it even harder. At this time of year, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing your friends and family. All you need is the right strategy.