Gatherings. More, and more family gatherings.
It probably feels like you’re meeting or reuniting with every relative you have, every weekend, during the holidays. That’s the charm (and, some might say, the bane) of the holiday season. Usually, this kind of annual catching up is something that’s easy to anticipate. You get to learn what everybody’s been up to all year.
But those family gatherings may feel less welcoming when you’re dealing with hearing loss. Why is that? How will your hearing loss impact you when you’re at family gatherings?
Hearing loss can hinder your ability to communicate, and with other people’s ability to communicate with you. The resulting feelings of alienation can be particularly disheartening and distressing 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
Around the holidays, there’s so much to see, like decorations, gifts, food and so much more. But there are not only things to see, but also things to hear: how Uncle Bob lost his third finger (what?!), how Julie is doing in school, how Nancy got promoted, it keeps going.
During holiday gatherings, make use of these tips to get through and make more unforgettable moments.
Use video chat instead of phone calls
For family and friends, Zoom video calls can be a fantastic way to keep in touch. That’s particularly true if you have hearing loss. If you have hearing loss and you want to connect with loved ones over the holidays, try using video calls instead of traditional phone calls.
When it comes to communicating with hearing loss, phones represent a particular challenge. The voice that comes through the phone speaker can feel muffled and hard to understand, and that can certainly 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 provide additional context, and that can help the conversation have a better flow.
Tell people the truth
Hearing loss is very common. It’s crucial to let people know if you need help. There’s no harm in asking for:
- People to repeat what they said, but asking that they rephrase too.
- A quieter place to have conversations.
- Your family and friends to speak a bit slower.
People won’t be as likely to become irritated when you ask them to repeat themselves if they know that you have hearing loss. As a result, communication tends to flow a little easier.
Select your areas of conversation wisely
During the holidays, there are always subjects of conversation you want to avoid. So, you’re strategic, you don’t just bring up touchy subjects about people, you wait for those people to bring it up. Similarly, you should try to cautiously choose spaces that are quieter for talking.
Handle it like this:
- When you find a place to sit, try to put a back to a wall. That way, at least you won’t have people talking behind you.
- Try to choose an area of the gathering that’s a little bit quieter. That may mean removing yourself from overlapping conversations or getting a little further away from that loud football game on the TV.
- Try to find well lit places for this same reason. Contextual clues, including body language and facial expressions, can get lost in dimly lit spaces.
- You’re seeking spaces with less commotion. This will put you in a better position to read lips more effectively.
So what if you’re in the noisy kitchen, filling up your mug of hot chocolate, and your niece starts talking to you? In situations like this, there are a couple of things you can do:
- You can politely ask the host, if there’s music playing, to turn it down so you can hear what your niece is saying.
- Politely begin walking towards a spot where you can hear and focus better. And remember to let her know this is what you’re doing.
- Suggest that you and your niece go someplace quieter to talk.
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?
When families are spread out, many people have to fly somewhere. It’s crucial that you can understand all of the directions 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 necessary, the flight crew can take extra care to give you extra visual guidelines. It’s crucial that you don’t miss anything when flying!
When you have hearing loss, communication can be a lot of effort. You will often find yourself fatigued more frequently than you used to. So taking frequent breaks is important. This will give your ears, and, perhaps more importantly, your brain, some time to catch a breath.
Consider getting hearing aids
How does hearing loss affect relationships? Hearing loss has a significant impact on relationships.
One of the major advantages of hearing aids is that they will make almost every interaction with your family over the holidays easier and more satisfying. And no more asking people what they said.
In other words, hearing aids will help you reconnect with your family.
Remember that it could take you some time to become accustomed to your hearing aids. So don’t wait until right before the holidays to pick them up. Everybody will have a different experience. So speak with us about the timing.
You can get help navigating the holidays
It can seem like you’re by yourself sometimes, and that nobody can relate to what you’re dealing with when you have hearing loss. In this way, it’s almost like hearing loss impacts your personality. But there’s help. You can get through many of the challenges with our help.
Holidays can be hard enough even under typical circumstances and you don’t need hearing loss to make it even more difficult. At this time of year, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing your family and friends. All you need is the right approach.