So, so many family get-togethers.
During the holiday seasons, it most likely feels like you’re meeting (or re-meeting) a new long-lost relative almost every weekend. 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 have hearing loss, those family gatherings may feel a little less inviting. Why is that? How will your hearing loss impact you when you’re at family gatherings?
Your ability to communicate with others can be seriously effected by hearing loss, and also the ability of other people to communicate with you. The resulting experience of alienation can be especially 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 rewarding, 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 third finger (what?!), how Julie is doing in school, how Nancy got promoted, 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 fantastic way to stay in touch with family and friends. That’s especially true if you have hearing loss. If you have hearing loss and you want to connect with loved ones during the holidays, try using video calls instead of standard phone calls.
Phones represent an interesting dilemma when it comes to hearing loss and communication challenges. The voice on the other end can feel muffled and hard to understand, and that makes what should be a pleasant phone call vexing indeed. You won’t get clearer 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
Hearing loss is extremely common. If you need help, it’s essential to communicate that! It doesn’t hurt to ask for:
- People to paraphrase and repeat what they said.
- Conversations to take place in quieter areas of the gathering (more on this in a bit).
- Your family and friends to speak a bit slower.
People won’t be as likely to become irritated when you ask them to repeat themselves if they know that you have hearing loss. Communication will flow better as a result.
Find some quiet areas for conversing
During the holidays, there are always topics of conversation you want to avoid. So you’re cautious not to say anything that would offend people, but instead, wait for them to mention any delicate subject matter. When you’re dealing with 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 challenging.
Here’s how to deal with it:
- By the same token, keep your conversations in places that are well-lit. Contextual clues, like body language and facial expressions, can get lost in dimly lit spaces.
- You’re looking for spaces with less commotion. This will put you in a better position to read lips more successfully.
- There will be quieter areas in the home where you have conversations. That may mean removing yourself from overlapping conversations or getting a little further away from that raucous football game on the TV.
- 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 begins talking to you in the noisy kitchen, where you’re topping off your mug with hot chocolate? There are a couple of things you can do in cases like these:
- 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.
- Suggest that you and your niece go somewhere quieter to chat.
- Quietly direct your niece to a place that has less going on. Be sure 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 gatherings that aren’t as obvious? Like the ones that catch you by surprise.
When families are spread out, lots of people need to fly somewhere. It’s essential that you can comprehend all of the guidelines coming from the flight crew when you fly. 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 provide you with extra visual guidelines. It’s important that you don’t miss anything when flying!
When you are dealing with hearing loss, communicating can be a lot of work. You will often find yourself fatigued more frequently than you used to. So taking frequent breaks is important. By doing this, your ears and your brain can get a rest.
Invest in some 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 during the holidays easier and more rewarding. And no more asking people what they said.
Hearing aids will let you reconnect with your family, in other words.
It might take a little time to get used to your new hearing aids. So it’s recommended that you get them well in advance of your holiday plans. Of course, everybody’s experience will be different. But we can help you with the timing.
You don’t have to get through the holidays by yourself
When you have hearing loss, often, it can feel as if no one understands what you’re going through, and that you have to get through it all by yourself. It’s as if hearing loss is impacting your personality in this way. But there’s help. We can help you get through many of these dilemmas.
The holidays don’t have to be a time of trepidation or anxiety (that is, any more than they normally are). With the right strategy, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing, your family around this time of year.