So, so many family celebrations.
It likely 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 difficult) because of this. Normally, it’s easy to look forward to this annual catching up. You get to find out what everyone’s been doing all year.
But when you’re dealing with hearing loss, those family get-togethers might seem a little less welcoming. What’s the reason for this? How will your hearing loss affect you when you’re at family gatherings?
Hearing loss can interfere with your ability to communicate, and with other people’s ability 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 formulated 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
There’s lots to see around the holidays, lights, food, gifts, and more. But there’s also a lot to hear: how your nephew is doing in school, how your cousin’s pick-up basketball team is doing, and on, and on.
These tips are designed to help make sure you keep experiencing all of those moments of reconnection during the course of holiday get-togethers.
Use video chat instead of phone calls
Zoom calls can be an excellent way to stay in touch with friends and family. If you’re dealing with hearing loss, this is particularly true. Try utilizing video calls instead of phone calls if you have hearing loss and want to reach out to loved ones throughout the holidays.
Phones present an interesting dilemma when it comes to hearing loss and communication difficulties. The voice that comes through the phone speaker can sound garbled and hard to understand, and that makes what should be a pleasant phone call annoying indeed. You won’t have better audio quality from a video call, but you will at least have visual cues to help figure out what’s being said. Conversations will have a better flow on video calls because you can read lips and use facial expressions.
Be honest with people
It isn’t uncommon for people to have hearing loss. If you need help, it’s important to communicate that! It doesn’t hurt to ask for:
- People to slow down a bit when speaking with you.
- A quieter place to talk.
- People to paraphrase and repeat what they said.
When people know that you have hearing loss, they’re less likely to become irritated if you need something repeated more than once. As a result, communication has a tendency to flow a bit smoother.
Find some quiet areas for talking
You will always want to steer clear of certain topics of conversation during the holidays. So, you’re strategic, you don’t just bring up touchy subjects about people, you wait for those people to mention it. In a similar way, you should try to carefully select areas that are quieter for conversations.
Handle it like this:
- Try to sit with your back to a wall. That way, at least there won’t be people talking behind you.
- Try to pick an area of the gathering that’s a little bit quieter. Possibly that means moving away from the noisy furnace or excusing yourself from locations of overlapping conversations.
- By the same token, keep your discussions in places that are well-lit. Contextual clues, including body language and facial expressions, can get lost in darker spaces.
- Try to find places that have less activity and fewer people walking by and distracting you. This’ll make it easier to focus on the lips of the individuals talking to you (and help you lip read as a result).
Alright, alright, but what if your niece begins talking to you in the noisy kitchen, where you’re topping off your mug with holiday cocoa? There are a few things you can do in cases like these:
- Quietly lead your niece to a place that has less going on. And remember to let her know this is what you’re doing.
- You can politely ask the host, if there is music playing, to turn it down so you can hear what your niece is saying.
- Ask your niece to carry on the conversation somewhere where it’s a bit quieter.
Speak to the flight crew
So what about less apparent impacts of hearing loss on holiday plans? Like the ones that catch you by surprise.
When families are spread out, many people have to fly somewhere. When you fly, it’s important to understand all the instructions and communication provided by the flight crew. Which is why it’s really significant to tell the flight crew that you have problems hearing or experience hearing loss. That way, the flight crew can give you visual instructions if necessary. 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 will frequently find yourself exhausted more often than before. As a result, it’s important to take frequent breaks. By doing this, your ears and your brain will get a rest.
Consider getting hearing aids
How are relationships affected by hearing loss? Well, as should be clear by now, in many ways!
One of the major benefits of hearing aids is that they will make nearly every interaction with your family during the holidays smoother and more fulfilling. And, the greatest part, you won’t have to keep asking people to repeat what they said.
Hearing aids will let you reconnect with your family, in other words.
It might take some time to get used to your new hearing aids. So you shouldn’t wait until just before the holidays to get them. Everybody will have a different experience. But we can help you with the timing.
You can get help getting through the holidays
It can feel 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.
The holidays don’t have to be a time of trepidation or anxiety (that is, any more than they typically are). During this holiday season, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing your family and friends. All you need is the right approach.