Gatherings. More, and more family gatherings.
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) for this reason. Usually, it’s easy to look forward to this yearly catching up. You get to reunite with everybody and find out what they’ve been doing!
But when you’re dealing with hearing loss, those family get-togethers might 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 effected by hearing loss, and also the ability of others to communicate with you. The resulting experience 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
Around the holidays, there’s so much to see, like lights, gifts, food and so much more. But there are not only things to see, but also things to hear: how Uncle Bob lost his second finger (what?!), how school is going for Julie, how Nancy got a promotion, it keeps going.
These tips are meant to help be certain that you keep experiencing all of those moments of reconnection over the course of holiday gatherings.
Use video chat instead of phone calls
For friends and family, Zoom video calls can be a great way to stay in touch. That’s particularly true if you have hearing loss. Try utilizing video calls instead of phone calls if you have hearing loss and want to reach out to loved ones during the holidays.
When it comes to communicating with hearing loss, phones represent a particular obstacle. The voice on the other end can sound garbled and difficult to understand, and that can definitely be frustrating. You won’t get better audio quality from a video call, but you will at least have visual cues to help determine what’s being said. From body language to facial expressions, video calls provide added context, and that can help the conversation have a better flow.
Be honest with people
It isn’t uncommon for people to have hearing loss. If you need help, it’s crucial to communicate that! There’s no harm in asking for:
- People to repeat things, but requesting that they rephrase as well.
- Your family and friends to talk a bit slower.
- A quieter place to have conversations.
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. As a result, communication has a tendency to flow a bit easier.
Find some quiet spaces for conversing
You will always want to avoid certain subjects of conversation during the holidays. So you’re careful not to say anything that would offend people, but instead, wait for them to bring up any delicate subject matter. When you have hearing loss, this goes double, only instead of avoiding certain topics of conversation, you should cautiously steer clear of specific areas in a home which make hearing conversations more difficult.
Here’s how to handle it:
- You’re looking for areas with less commotion. This’ll make it easier to focus on the lips of the individuals talking to you (and help you read lips as a result).
- Try to pick an area of the gathering that’s a little quieter. That may mean removing yourself from overlapping conversations or getting a bit further away from that raucous sporting event on the TV.
- Try to find well lit spots for this same reason. If there isn’t sufficient light, you won’t be able to pick up on contextual clues or read lips.
- When you choose a place to sit, try to put a wall against your back. That way, there’ll be less background noise for you to have to deal with.
So what if you’re in the noisy kitchen, filling up your cocoa mug, and your niece begins talking to you? In situations like this, there are a couple of things you can do:
- Ask your niece to continue the conversation someplace where it’s a bit quieter.
- 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 an area of the gathering place where you can hear and focus better. Be certain to mention that’s what you’re doing.
Speak to the flight crew
So, you’re thinking: what are the effects of hearing loss at family get-togethers that are less obvious? Like the ones that catch you by surprise.
Lots of people go on planes during the holidays, it’s particularly important for families that are fairly spread out. It’s crucial that you can comprehend all of the instructions coming from the flight crew when you fly. So you need to be certain to tell them about your hearing loss. This way, if necessary, the flight crew can take extra care to give you extra visual instructions. It’s important 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 often than you used to. This means that it’s essential to take frequent breaks. This will give your ears, and, perhaps more importantly, your brain, some time to catch a breath.
Get some hearing aids
How are relationships impacted by hearing loss? Hearing loss has a significant impact on relationships.
Every interaction with your family during the holidays will be enhanced by hearing aids and that’s one of the biggest benefits. And no more asking people to repeat themselves.
In other words, hearing aids will help you reconnect with your family.
It could take a little time to adjust 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. But we can help you with the timing.
You can get help navigating the holidays
It can feel as if 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 you aren’t alone. We can help you get through many of these dilemmas.
The holidays don’t have to be a time of worry or anxiety (that is, any more than they normally are). At this time of year, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing your friends and family. All you need is the right approach.