So, so many family celebrations.
During the holidays, it probably seems like you’re meeting (or re-meeting) a new long-lost relative every other weekend. The holiday season can be enjoyable (and also difficult) because of this. Normally, it’s easy to look forward to this annual catching up. You get to learn what everybody’s been doing all year.
But those family gatherings might 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 other people to communicate with you. The resulting experience of alienation can be especially discouraging and stressful 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 your nephew is doing in school, how your cousin’s pond hockey team is doing, and on, and on.
These tips are meant to help be certain that 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 keep in touch with friends and family. If you’re dealing with hearing loss, this is particularly true. If you have hearing loss and you want to connect with loved ones during the holidays, try utilizing video calls instead of standard phone calls.
Phones represent an interesting dilemma when it comes to hearing loss and communication difficulties. It can be really difficult to hear the garbled sounding voice on the other end, and that makes what should be an enjoyable phone call annoying indeed. With a video call, the audio quality won’t necessarily improve, 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’s not 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 slow down a little when talking with you.
- Conversations to happen in quieter areas of the get-together (more on this in a bit).
- People to paraphrase and repeat what they said.
When people recognize that you’re dealing with hearing loss, they’re less likely to become annoyed if you need something repeated more than once. As a result, communication tends to flow a bit easier.
Find some quiet spaces for talking
Throughout the holidays, there are always subjects of conversation you want to avoid. So you’re cautious not to say anything that might offend people, but instead, wait for them to mention any sensitive subject matter. In a similar way, you should try to carefully choose areas that are quieter for conversations.
Here’s how to handle it:
- Try to sit with your back to a wall. That way, at least you won’t have people talking behind you.
- There will be quieter spots in the home where you have conversations. Maybe that means sneaking away from the noisy television or excusing yourself from areas of overlapping conversations.
- Try to find areas 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 speaking with you (and help you read lips as a result).
- Attempt to find brightly lit places for this same reason. Contextual clues, such as body language and facial expressions, can get lost in dimly lit spaces.
Okay, okay, but what if your niece starts talking to you in the noisy kitchen, where you’re filling your mug with hot chocolate? In cases like this, there are a few things you can do:
- 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.
- Quietly direct your niece to a place that has less going on. And don’t forget to let her know this is what you’re doing.
Communicate with the flight crew
So how about less obvious impacts of hearing loss on holiday plans? You know, the ones you don’t see coming?
When families are spread out, many people have to fly somewhere. When you fly, it’s crucial to understand all the instructions and communication provided by the flight crew. So you need to be certain to tell them about your hearing loss. This way, if needed, the flight crew can take extra care to give you additional visual instructions. It’s essential 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 exhausted more frequently than you used to. So taking regular breaks is essential. By doing this, your ears and your brain will get a rest.
Get some hearing aids
How are relationships affected by hearing loss? Hearing loss has a significant impact on relationships.
One of the major benefits of hearing aids is that they will make almost every interaction with your family over the holidays smoother and more fulfilling. And no more asking people to repeat themselves.
In other words, hearing aids will help you reconnect with your family.
It may take a little time to adjust to your new hearing aids. So it’s advisable that you pick them up well in advance of your holiday plans. Of course, everybody’s experience will be different. So speak with us about the timing.
You don’t have to get through the holidays by yourself
It can seem as if you’re alone sometimes, and that nobody understands what you’re dealing with when you have hearing loss. In this way, it’s kind of like hearing loss impacts your personality. But you’re not alone. We can help you navigate many of these challenges.
The holidays don’t need to be a time of worry or anxiety (that is, any more than they usually are). At this time of year, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing your family and friends. All you need is the right strategy.