So, so many family get-togethers.
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 difficult) because of this. Usually, it’s easy to look forward to this yearly catching up. You get to reunite with everyone and find out what they’re up to!
But those family get-togethers may feel less inviting when you’re dealing with hearing loss. What’s the reason for this? What are the effects of hearing loss at family gatherings?
Your ability to communicate with others can be significantly effected by hearing loss, and also the ability of other people to communicate with you. The resulting experience of alienation can be extremely disheartening and distressing around the holidays. Hearing specialists and professionals have formulated 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
There’s a lot to see during the holidays, lights, food, gifts, and more. But there’s also so much to hear: how your nephew is doing in school, how your cousin’s pond hockey team is doing, and on, and on.
During holiday gatherings, use these tips to get through and make more memorable memories.
Use video chat instead of phone calls
For friends and family, Zoom video calls can be a good way to keep in touch. If you’re dealing with hearing loss, this is especially true. If you have hearing loss and you want to touch base with loved ones during the holidays, try using video calls instead of standard phone calls.
Phones present an interesting conundrum when it comes to hearing loss and communication difficulties. It can be very difficult to hear the muffled sounding voice on the other end, and that makes what should be an enjoyable phone call vexing indeed. With a video call, the audio quality won’t actually get better, but you’ll have much more information to help you communicate. Conversations will have a better flow on video calls because you can read lips and use facial expressions.
Tell people the truth
It isn’t uncommon for people to have hearing loss. If you need help, it’s essential to communicate that! It doesn’t hurt to ask for:
- People to paraphrase and repeat what they said.
- People to slow down a bit when speaking with you.
- Conversations to happen in quieter areas of the gathering (more on this in a bit).
When people are aware that you have hearing loss, they’re less likely to get irritated if you need something repeated more than once. As a result, communication has a tendency to flow a little smoother.
Find some quiet spaces for talking
Throughout the holidays, there are always topics of conversation you want to steer clear of. So you’re careful not to say anything that would offend people, but instead, wait for them to talk about any delicate subject matter. When you’re dealing with hearing loss, this goes double, only instead of avoiding certain topics of conversation, you should carefully avoid specific spaces in a home which make hearing conversations more difficult.
Handle it like this:
- Try to find places that have less motion and fewer people walking by and distracting you. This will put you in a stronger position to read lips more successfully.
- By the same token, keep your discussions in areas that are well-lit. Contextual clues, like body language and facial expressions, can get lost in dimly lit spaces.
- Try to choose an area of the gathering that’s a little quieter. Perhaps that means sneaking away from the noisy television or excusing yourself from areas of overlapping conversations.
- Try to sit with a wall behind you. That way, at least you won’t have people talking behind you.
Okay, okay, but what if your niece starts talking to you in the noisy kitchen, where you’re filling your mug with hot chocolate? There are a couple of things you can do in cases like these:
- Suggest that you and your niece go somewhere quieter to talk.
- 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.
- Politely start walking towards a spot where you can hear and focus better. Be sure to explain that’s what you’re doing.
Speak to the flight crew
So how about less apparent impacts of hearing loss on holiday plans? Like the ones that sneak up on you.
Many people go on planes during the holidays, it’s especially important for families that are pretty spread out. When you fly, it’s essential to understand all the instructions and communication provided by the flight crew. So you need to be certain 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 not to miss anything!
It can be lots of work trying to communicate with hearing loss. You might find yourself getting more fatigued or exhausted than you used to. So taking regular breaks is important. By doing this, your ears and your brain will get a rest.
Consider getting hearing aids
How are relationships impacted 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 no more asking people what they said.
Put simply, hearing aids will help you reconnect with your family.
It might take a little time to get used to your new hearing aids. So it’s recommended that you pick them up well in advance of your holiday plans. Of course, everyone’s experience will be different. So talk to us about the timing.
You don’t need to navigate 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 get through it all alone. In this way, it’s almost like hearing loss impacts your personality. But there’s help. We can help you navigate many of these dilemmas.
The holidays don’t need to be a time of worry or nervousness (that is, any more than they typically are). At this time of year, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing your family and friends. All you need is the right approach.