Gatherings. So many 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. Typically, this type of annual catching up is something that’s easy to anticipate. You get to check in on everybody and find out what they’re up to!
But those family gatherings may feel less inviting when you have hearing loss. What’s the reason for this? How will your hearing loss affect you when you’re at family get-togethers?
Your ability to communicate with others can be greatly impacted by hearing loss, and also the ability of others to communicate with you. The end result can be a disheartening feeling of alienation, and it’s an especially disturbing feeling when it happens during the holidays. Hearing specialists and professionals have formulated 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
There’s so much to see around the holidays, lights, food, gifts, and 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 get-togethers, make use of these tips to get through and make more memorable moments.
Avoid phone calls – instead, use video calls.
For friends and family, Zoom video calls can be a good way to stay in touch. 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 during the holidays.
Phones present a difficult conundrum with regards to hearing loss and communication challenges. It can be really difficult to hear the garbled sounding voice on the other end, and that makes what should be a pleasant phone call vexing indeed. You won’t have clearer audio quality from a video call, but you will at least have visual cues to help figure out what’s being said. From body language to facial expressions, video calls supply added context, and that will help the conversation have a better flow.
Be honest with people
It isn’t uncommon for people to have hearing loss. It’s crucial to tell people if you need help. It doesn’t hurt to ask for:
- Conversations to take place in quieter areas of the gathering (more on this in a bit).
- Your friends and family to talk a little slower.
- People to paraphrase and repeat what they said.
People won’t be as likely to become irritated when you ask them to repeat themselves if they are aware that you have hearing loss. Communication will have a better flow as a result.
Select your areas of conversation carefully
Throughout the holidays, there are always topics of conversation you want to avoid. So you’re cautious not to say anything that might offend people, but instead, wait for them to bring up any delicate subject matter. When you’re dealing with hearing loss, this even more important, only instead of scooting around certain topics of conversation, you should carefully avoid specific places in a home which make hearing conversations more challenging.
Here’s how to deal with it:
- Try to pick an area of the gathering that’s a little bit quieter. Maybe that means sneaking away from the noisy furnace or removing yourself from locations of overlapping conversations.
- When you find a spot to sit, try to put a back to a wall. That way, at least you won’t have people talking behind you.
- You’re seeking areas with less commotion. This will put you in a better position to read lips more successfully.
- Attempt to find well lit places for this same reason. Contextual clues, like body language and facial expressions, can get lost in dimly lit spaces.
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 couple of things you can do:
- You can politely ask the host, if there is music playing, to turn it down so you can hear what your niece is saying.
- Politely begin walking to a spot where you can hear and concentrate better. And remember to make her aware this is what you’re doing.
- Suggest that you and your niece go someplace quieter to chat.
Speak to the flight crew
So, you’re thinking: what are the effects of hearing loss at family get-togethers that are less apparent? Like the ones that catch you by surprise.
When families are spread out, lots of people need to fly somewhere. When you fly, it’s important to understand all the instructions and communication coming from the flight crew. Which is why it’s extra crucial to tell the flight crew that you have difficulty hearing or have hearing loss. That way, the flight crew can provide you with visual instructions if necessary. When you’re flying, it’s important not to miss anything!
It can be a lot of work trying to communicate with hearing loss. You will often find yourself fatigued more often than before. As a result, it’s important to take frequent breaks. This will give your ears, and, maybe more importantly, your brain, a little bit of time to catch a breath.
Get some hearing aids
How does hearing loss impact relationships? Hearing loss has a significant impact on relationships.
One of the greatest advantages of hearing aids is that they will make nearly every interaction with your family over the holidays easier and more fulfilling. And, the greatest part, you won’t have to continue to ask people to repeat themselves.
Put simply, hearing aids will help you reconnect with your family.
It may take some time to get used to your new hearing aids. So it’s advisable that you get them well in advance of your holiday plans. Everyone will have a different experience. But we can help you with the timing.
You can get help navigating the holidays
When you have hearing loss, often, it can feel as if no one can relate to what you’re dealing with, and that you have to do it all by yourself. In this way, it’s kind of like hearing loss impacts your personality. But there’s help. We can help you get through many of these challenges.
Holidays can be hard enough even under normal circumstances and you don’t need hearing loss to make it even more difficult. During this holiday season, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing your family and friends. All you need is the right strategy.