Gatherings. So many family gatherings.
It probably feels like you’re meeting or reuniting with every relative you have, every weekend, during the holidays. That’s the appeal (and, some would say, the curse) of the holiday season. Normally, it’s easy to look forward to this yearly catching up. You get to check in on everybody and find out what they’ve been doing!
But those family get-togethers may feel less welcoming when you have hearing loss. What’s the reason for this? How will your hearing loss impact you when you’re at family get-togethers?
Your ability to communicate with others can be significantly impacted by hearing loss, and also the ability of others to communicate with you. The resulting experience of alienation can be extremely disheartening and stressful around the holidays. Hearing specialists and professionals have developed some go-to tips that can help make your holidays more enjoyable, and more rewarding, when you have hearing loss.
Tips to help you enjoy the holiday season
There’s so much 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 pick-up basketball team is doing, and on, and on.
These tips are meant to help make sure you keep experiencing all of those moments of reconnection over the course of holiday gatherings.
Avoid phone calls – instead, use video calls.
For family and friends, Zoom video calls can be a good way to keep 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.
While trying to communicate with hearing loss, phones present a particular obstacle. It can be really hard to hear the muffled sounding voice at the other end, and that can definitely be frustrating. With a video call, the audio quality won’t actually improve, but you’ll have much more information to help you communicate. Conversations will flow better on video calls because you can read lips and use facial expressions.
Tell people the truth
Hearing loss is extremely common. It’s essential to let people know if you need help. It doesn’t hurt to ask for:
- People to repeat what they said, but requesting that they rephrase too.
- People to slow down a little bit when speaking with you.
- A quieter place to have conversations.
People will be less likely to become annoyed 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 smoother.
Find some quiet spaces for conversing
During 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 individuals to mention it. When you have hearing loss, this goes double, only instead of avoiding certain topics of conversation, you should carefully avoid specific spaces in a home which make hearing conversations more difficult.
Here’s how to deal with it:
- Try to choose an area of the gathering that’s a little quieter. Possibly that means sneaking away from the noisy furnace or removing yourself from areas of overlapping conversations.
- You’re seeking spaces with less commotion. This will put you in a stronger position to read lips more effectively.
- Attempt to find well lit spots for this same reason. If there isn’t enough light, you won’t be capable of picking up on contextual clues or read lips.
- Try to sit with a wall behind you. That way, at least there won’t be people talking behind you.
Okay, okay, but what if your niece starts talking to you in the noisy kitchen, where you’re filling your mug with hot chocolate? There are a couple of things you can do in situations like these:
- You can politely ask the host, if there’s 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. And remember to make her aware this is what you’re doing.
- Suggest that you and your niece go somewhere quieter to talk.
Communicate with the flight crew
So, you’re thinking: what are the impacts of hearing loss at family get-togethers that are less obvious? Like the ones that catch you by surprise.
When families are spread out, lots of people have to fly somewhere. When you fly, it’s essential to understand all the directions and communication provided by the flight crew. So you need to be sure to let them know about your hearing loss. In this way, the flight crew can give you visual instructions if needed. It’s crucial that you don’t miss anything when flying!
It can be a lot of work trying to communicate with hearing loss. You will often find yourself fatigued more often than you used to. As a result, it’s essential to take frequent breaks. This will give your ears, and, perhaps more importantly, your brain, a little bit of time to catch a breath.
Consider getting hearing aids
How are relationships affected by hearing loss? Well, as should be clear at this point, in many ways!
Every conversation with your family through the holidays will be enhanced by hearing aids and that’s one of the greatest benefits. And, the greatest part, you won’t have to continue to ask people to repeat themselves.
In other words, hearing aids will help you reconnect with your family.
Keep in mind that it could take you a bit of time to get used to your hearing aids. So it’s recommended that you get them 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 seem like you’re alone sometimes, and that no one can relate to what you’re dealing with when you have hearing loss. In this way, it’s kind of like hearing loss affects your personality. But there’s help. We can help you navigate many of these dilemmas.
The holidays don’t need to be a time of trepidation or nervousness (that is, any more than they typically are). With the proper approach, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing, your family around this time of year.