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Family enjoying Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner together around the dining table at grandmother's home.

Gatherings. More, and more family gatherings.

It likely seems like you’re meeting or reuniting with every relative you have, every weekend, during the holiday season. That’s the appeal (and, some might say, the curse) of the holiday season. Usually, 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. What’s the reason for this? What are the effects of hearing loss at family gatherings?

Hearing loss can interfere with your ability to communicate, and with other people’s ability to communicate with you. The resulting experience of alienation can be especially discouraging and distressing around the holidays. Your holiday season can be more fulfilling and pleasant by using a few go-to tips formulated by hearing specialists.

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 Uncle Bob lost his second finger (what?!), how school is going for Julie, how Nancy got a promotion, it keeps going.

During holiday get-togethers, use these tips to get through and make more unforgettable memories.

Use video chat instead of phone calls

Zoom calls can be a great way to keep in touch with friends and family. That’s particularly 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.

When it comes to communicating with hearing loss, phones present a particular challenge. The voice on the other end can feel garbled and difficult to understand, and that makes what should be a pleasant phone call annoying indeed. You won’t have clearer audio quality from a video call, but you will at least have visual clues to help figure out what’s being said. Conversations will have a better flow on video calls because you can read lips and use facial expressions.

Be honest with people

It’s not uncommon for people to suffer from hearing loss. If you need help, it’s crucial to communicate that! It doesn’t hurt to ask for:

  • People to paraphrase and repeat what they said.
  • A quieter place to talk.
  • People to slow down a little when talking with you.

When people are aware that you have hearing loss, they’re not as likely to become irritated if you need something repeated more than once. As a result, communication has a tendency to flow a little easier.

Choose your areas of conversation wisely

You will always want to steer clear of certain topics of conversation throughout the holidays. So, you’re strategic, you don’t just mention sensitive subjects about people, you wait for those people to bring it up. When you’re dealing with hearing loss, this goes double, only instead of scooting around certain topics of conversation, you should cautiously steer clear of specific places in a home which make hearing conversations more challenging.

Handle it like this:

  • For this reason, keep your conversations in settings that are well-lit. If there isn’t adequate light, you won’t be capable of picking up on context clues or read lips.
  • Try to pick an area of the gathering that’s a little quieter. Perhaps that means moving away from the noisy furnace or excusing yourself from areas of overlapping conversations.
  • You’re looking for spaces with less commotion. This’ll make it easier to concentrate on the lips of the people talking to you (and help you lip read as a result).
  • Try to sit with a wall behind you. That way, there’ll be less background interference 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 cases like this, there are a couple of things you can do:

  • 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.
  • Ask your niece to continue the conversation somewhere where it’s a little quieter.
  • Quietly direct your niece to a place that has less happening. Be certain to explain that’s what you’re doing.

Speak to the flight crew

So how about less obvious effects of hearing loss on holiday plans? Like the ones that catch you by surprise.

Many people fly around during the holidays, it’s particularly essential for families that are pretty spread out. When you fly, it’s important to understand all the directions and communication coming from the flight crew. Which is why it’s really crucial to tell the flight crew that you have trouble hearing or experience hearing loss. In this way, the flight crew can provide you with visual instructions if necessary. When you’re flying, it’s important not to miss anything!

Take breaks

When you have hearing loss, communication can become a lot of work. You will often find yourself exhausted more frequently than before. This means that it’s essential to take regular 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 does hearing loss affect relationships? Hearing loss has a significant affect on relationships.

One of the major benefits of hearing aids is that they will make almost every interaction with your family during the holidays smoother and more rewarding. And, the best part, you won’t have to continue to ask people to repeat what they said.

Hearing aids will allow you to reconnect with your family, in other words.

Keep in mind that it could take you a bit of time to become accustomed to your hearing aids. So it’s recommended that you pick them up well in advance of your holiday plans. Naturally, everybody’s experience will be different. But we can help you with the timing.

You don’t need to get through the holidays by yourself

When you have hearing loss, often, it can feel like no one understands what you’re dealing with, and that you have to get through it all alone. In this way, it’s almost like hearing loss impacts your personality. But there’s help. You can get through many of the difficulties with our help.

The holidays don’t need to be a time of trepidation or anxiety (that is, any more than they usually are). At this time of year, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing your friends and family. All you need is the correct strategy.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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