So, so many family get-togethers.
It likely seems like you’re meeting or reuniting with every relative you have, every weekend, during the holiday season. The holiday season can be enjoyable (and also difficult) because of this. Normally, it’s easy to look forward to this yearly catching up. You get to learn what everyone’s been doing all year.
But when you have hearing loss, those family get-togethers may feel a little less inviting. Why is that? How will your hearing loss affect you when you’re at family gatherings?
Hearing loss can hinder your ability to communicate, and with other people’s ability to communicate with you. The resulting feelings of alienation can be especially 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 a lot to hear: how Uncle Bob lost his second finger (what?!), how Julie is doing in school, how Nancy got a promotion, it keeps going.
These tips are designed to help make sure you keep experiencing all of those moments of reconnection over the course of holiday gatherings.
Use video chat instead of phone calls
For family and friends, Zoom video calls can be a great way to keep in touch. That’s especially true if you have hearing loss. If you have hearing loss and you want to touch base with loved ones over the holidays, try utilizing video calls instead of standard phone calls.
Phones present an interesting dilemma when it comes to hearing loss and communication challenges. It can be very difficult to hear the garbled sounding voice at the other end, and that can definitely be aggravating. 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 offer added context, and that will help the conversation flow better.
Tell people the truth
Hearing loss is extremely common. It’s crucial to tell people if you need help. It doesn’t hurt to ask for:
- People to slow down a little when speaking with you.
- People to repeat what they said, but requesting that they rephrase as well.
- Conversations to occur in quieter areas of the get-together (more on this in a bit).
When people are aware that you have hearing loss, they’re less likely to become irritated if you need something repeated more than once. Communication will have a better flow as a result.
Pick your locations of conversation wisely
Throughout the holidays, there are always topics of conversation you want to steer clear of. So, you’re strategic, you don’t just bring up sensitive subjects about people, you wait for those people to mention it. Similarly, you should try to carefully pick spaces that are quieter for conversations.
deal with it like this:
- You’re seeking areas with less commotion. This will put you in a stronger position to read lips more effectively.
- Try to sit with your back to a wall. That way, at least there won’t be people talking behind you.
- There will be quieter areas in the home where you have conversations. Possibly that means sneaking away from the noisy television or removing yourself from areas of overlapping conversations.
- For this reason, keep your discussions in places that are well-lit. If there isn’t sufficient light, you won’t be able to pick up on contextual clues or read lips.
Alright, alright, but what if your niece begins talking to you in the loud kitchen, where you’re topping off your mug with hot chocolate? There are a few things you can do in cases like these:
- Quietly lead your niece to a place that has less happening. And don’t forget to make her aware this is what you’re doing.
- You can politely ask the host, if there’s music playing, to turn it down so you can hear what your niece is saying.
- Suggest that you and your niece go someplace quieter to talk.
Communicate with the flight crew
So how about less apparent effects of hearing loss on holiday plans? Like the ones that catch you by surprise.
Lots of people fly around during the holidays, it’s especially important for families that are fairly spread out. When you fly, it’s essential to comprehend all the instructions and communication coming from the flight crew. So you need to be sure to let them know about your hearing loss. In this way, the flight crew can offer you visual instructions if needed. It’s important that you don’t miss anything when flying!
It can be lots of work trying to communicate with hearing loss. You might find yourself growing more fatigued or exhausted than you once did. As a result, it’s important to take frequent breaks. This will give your ears, and, maybe 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 at this point, in many ways!
One of the greatest benefits of hearing aids is that they will make nearly every interaction with your family over the holidays easier and more rewarding. And, the greatest part, you won’t have to keep asking people to repeat themselves.
In other words, hearing aids will help you reconnect with your family.
It might take some time to get used to your new hearing aids. So don’t wait until right before the holidays to get them. Naturally, everybody’s experience will differ. But we can help you with the timing.
You don’t need to navigate the holidays alone
When you have hearing loss, often, it can feel like no one can relate to what you’re dealing with, and that you have to do it all by yourself. It’s like hearing loss is impacting your personality in this way. But there’s help. 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 more difficult. With the correct strategy, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing, your family during this time of year.