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. The holiday season can be fun (and also difficult) because of this. Usually, this sort of annual catching up is something that’s easy to anticipate. You get to learn what everybody’s been doing all year.
But when you have hearing loss, those family get-togethers may seem a little less welcoming. Why is that? What are the impacts of hearing loss at family get-togethers?
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 resulting feelings of alienation can be particularly discouraging and distressing around the holidays. Hearing specialists and professionals have developed 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 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.
These tips are designed to help make sure you keep having all of those moments of reconnection during the course of holiday get-togethers.
Avoid phone calls – use video instead
Zoom calls can be a fantastic way to keep in touch with family and friends. That’s especially 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. It can be really difficult to hear the muffled sounding voice on the other end, 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.
Tell people the truth
Hearing loss is very common. If you need help, it’s important to communicate that! There’s no harm in asking for:
- People to slow down a bit when speaking with you.
- Conversations to take place in quieter areas of the get-together (more on this in a bit).
- People to paraphrase and repeat what they said.
People will be less likely to become aggravated when you ask them to repeat themselves if they know that you have hearing loss. Communication will flow better as a result.
Find some quiet areas for talking
You will always want to steer clear of certain topics of conversation throughout the holidays. So, you’re strategic, you don’t just mention touchy subjects about people, you wait for those people to bring it up. When you have hearing loss, this even more important, only instead of avoiding certain topics of conversation, you should cautiously avoid specific places in a home which make hearing conversations more difficult.
Here’s how to handle it:
- For this reason, keep your conversations in places that are well-lit. Contextual clues, including body language and facial expressions, can get lost in darker spaces.
- Try to sit with your back to a wall. That way, at least you won’t have people talking behind you.
- Try to find an area of the gathering that’s a little bit quieter. That might mean removing yourself from overlapping conversations or getting a little further away from that loud football game on the TV.
- Attempt to find areas that have less motion and fewer people going by and distracting you. This will put you in a stronger position to read lips more effectively.
So what if you’re in the noisy kitchen, filling up your cocoa mug, and your niece starts talking to you? In situations like this, there are a few things you can do:
- Ask your niece to continue the conversation someplace where it’s a little quieter.
- Politely begin walking to a spot where you can hear and concentrate better. And don’t forget to make her aware this is what you’re doing.
- 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.
Communicate with the flight crew
So how about less apparent impacts of hearing loss on holiday plans? Like the ones that catch you by surprise.
Lots of people fly around during the holidays, it’s particularly significant for families that are fairly spread out. It’s crucial that you can understand all of the guidelines coming from the flight crew when you fly. Which is why it’s really essential to tell the flight crew that you have trouble hearing or have hearing loss. This way, if needed, the flight crew can take extra care to give you additional visual guidelines. It’s crucial that you don’t miss anything when flying!
It can be lots of work trying to communicate with hearing loss. You will frequently find yourself fatigued more often than you used to. This means that it’s important to take regular breaks. This will give your ears, and, perhaps more significantly, your brain, some time to catch a breath.
Consider investing in hearing aids
How are relationships affected by hearing loss? Well, as should be clear by now, in many ways!
Every conversation with your family during the holidays will be enhanced by hearing aids and that’s one of the greatest benefits. And no more asking people what they said.
Hearing aids will allow you to reconnect with your family, in other words.
Remember that it might take you a bit of time to become accustomed to your hearing aids. So it’s advisable that you pick them up well in advance of your holiday plans. Naturally, everyone’s experience will differ. So speak with us about the timing.
You don’t have to navigate the holidays by yourself
When you have hearing loss, often, it can feel as if nobody can relate to what you’re dealing with, and that you have to do it all by yourself. It’s as if hearing loss is impacting your personality in this way. But you’re not alone. We can help you get through many of these challenges.
Holidays can be tough enough even under normal circumstances and you don’t need hearing loss to make it even harder. With the proper approach, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing, your family around this time of year.